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Reviews by the Ramona Team

Indulging in the world of words, is our favorite escape. These book reviews are a delightful bouquet of literary treasures, carefully gathered and thoughtfully curated, and we’re excited to share this years Ramona picks with all our fellow book-loving mavens. So, grab your coziest blanket and a steaming cup of your preferred brew – it’s time to immerse yourself in the magic of these pages.

Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang

Review by Freya Bennett

The page turner of the year has to be Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang.

June has just witnessed her friend and literary darling, Athena Liu die in a freak accident. While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, June slips Athena’s most recent manuscript into her bag.

We follow June on her journey from nobody to somebody with a book she stole from Athena. But she deserves credit for all the editing and rewriting she did, right?

A dramatic and dark satirical novel for anyone who loves to hate their main character(s). This novel is full of flawed personalities and although Junie, the main character is the obvious villain here, the more we learn about each character, the more we realise, they’re all villains in their own way.

Beatrix & Fred by Emily Spurr

Review by Freya Bennett

Weaving a peculiar yet enchanting tale of friendship, Beatrix & Fred, spotlights love in all it’s strange essences. Beatrix, immersed in solitude, reserves her affections solely for Horatio, her cherished stuffed canary, shutting herself from any kind of human warmth. A few encounters with an elderly woman, who seems to be stalking her, shatters Beatrix’s world as she questions her mental stability. Weighing up whether she is delusional or whether she has a real stalker, Beatrix question who, or perhaps what, is following her?

A fabulous Melbourne tale, Beatrix & Fred delicately merges the bizarre with the familiar, touching on emotions we’ve all felt in life. A science fiction book for those who don’t read science fiction, this narrative prompts readers to contemplate the essence of humanity.

Award winning author, Emily Spurr, perfectly marries the feelings of isolation and friendship and how we, as humans, can feel so many things at once. Touching on perimenopause, this book is paving the way for more fiction about women of a certain age.

Where I Slept by Libby Angel

Review by Molly Mckew

Libby Angel’s Where I Slept paints a rich and immersive picture of the artistic bohemia of 1990s urban Melbourne. The short, observational chapters tell the story of a young woman ensconced in a journey of something that is not quite self-discovery — she is strong in her skin and knows who she is — of finding a place in which to thrive.

Where I Slept provides a cultural history of the arts scene of Fitzroy in the early 90s, traversing pubs, cafes, arts and activist movements, as well as specific pockets of the suburb, ‘Little Spain’, a landing spot for waves of Spanish and Latin American migrants. Leftie-Melbourne 90s nostalgia abounds, with soy milk, rice cakes, yoga, dreadlocks, and Freudian phrases like “penis envy” in play throughout its pages.

Search History by Amy Taylor

Review by Erandhi Mendis

Search History is the perfect blend of comedy, gut wrenching tragedy and real world discourse. If you’ve ever stalked an ex on the internet (who hasn’t?), this is a clever, heartwarming and refreshing text set in our beautiful city of Melbourne.

The book follows the funny and complicated journey of Ana, a Western Australia transplant, who post-breakup moves to Melbourne to start a new life. The trope of meeting a handsome guy at work drinks gets thrown to the background when it’s not the boy meets girl love story readers care about – instead Ana becomes obsessed with her new boyfriend’s dead ex girlfriend. The novel unpacks the complexities of a feminine experience: desire, jealousy, lust, violence and fear.

Amy Taylor‘s debut novel is full of humour and poignancy as she explores the contradictions and uncertainties that unravel with dating in the twenty first century.

Something Bad is Going to Happen by Jessie Stephens

Review by Freya Bennett

The book opens with Adella, a 29-year-old woman who has just been admitted to a mental health institution following a slow decline into a depressive crises.  The story jumps back and forwards in time as we learn how Adella came to be in her current situation.

The crushing weight of Adella’s depression is portrayed so clearly through Jessie Stephen’s writing that although I haven’t had this exact experience, I could almost feel what the character was experiencing. And yet, while there was a  visceral feeling attached to reading Adella’s story, I didn’t feel triggered and my anxiety that is so easily set off, remained under control. A testament to story telling I haven’t seen before.

Jessie writes mental illness with such grit and simplicity that it’s clear there is an element of personal experience in the way she describes these deep feelings. There is an element of maturity that I found refreshing in reading Something Bad is Going to Happen, as at no point did I feel the contents of this novel was sensationalising or romanticising a mental health crises.

The House With all the Lights On by Jessica Kirkness 

Review by Freya Bennett

Jessica Kirkness has traversed the boundary between deaf and hearing cultures all her life. Her memoir tells the story of her grandparents who grew up deaf in a hearing world—one where sign language was banned for much of the twentieth century—and weaves in her own experience as a hearing child in a family that often struggled to navigate their elders’ difference.

This journey takes her from the family home to the workplaces of research audiologists, and back to England where she visits her grandparents’ old schools and other family landmarks—discovering along the way how terribly their deafness has been misunderstood.

The House With All The Lights On captures the universal experience of navigating complex family relationships and beautifully explores the nuances of identity in what is both a memoir and a love letter to those closest to her heart.

I’ll Let Myself In by Hannah Diviney

Review by Freya Bennett

You wouldn’t think a 24-year-old would have enough material to write a memoir but that is not the case for the ever-incredible Hannah Diviney.

Her memoir I’ll Let Myself In is sharp, kind and thoughtful as she shares her personal experience growing up with cerebral palsy and everything that has meant for her.

Star of the show Latecomers and the activist behind the campaign to get Lizzo and Beyoncé to change their lyrics (you can read about that here), Hannah has stories to tell and she is using her beautiful and undeniable writing talent to tell them.

A coming-of-age book for the current times. A book that will open your eyes and make you want to create a better world for all of our inhabitants, I cannot recommend Hannah’s writing and wisdom enough.

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