Review – Girl Defective – by Simmone Howell


First up, exciting news! I’m going to be part of an upcoming blog tour for the 2012 Text Prize Winner AJ Betts. Her book Zac and Mia is due to be published later this month so I’ll be reviewing it and giving away a copy of the book to a commenter (from Aus) on the blog. Stay tuned for more details…

In recent reading, after losing my copy of Girl Defective underneath the couch and then finding it again, I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning yesterday/today finishing it. I LOVED it. It was exactly the kind of book that I would have read a thousand times over as a teenager, daydreaming of the romantic/tortured/artistic life I would one day lead. In my imaginings I would have been Nancy, a free spirit drifting along on some romantic idea, but in reality I was probably more like Sky, except not as cool.

The point, I suppose, is that in this book Simmone Howell has created characters that you want to know, that you want to be. They’re exciting, slightly odd, very loveable and all just the right amount of lost. You’ll wish that each and every one of them was in your life.

There’s fifteen-year-old Sky, the narrator. The girl who hasn’t yet found her people. Oh how fifteen-year-old Bec would have related to this. I know this because I’m thirty, and still collecting ‘my people’ as I go. She’s a misfit who doesn’t realise how great she is. She’s on the cusp of discovering EVERYTHING – her identity, her passion, her sexuality. It’s an exciting, hormone driven time and Sky is in the middle of the hurricane.

There’s Gully, Sky’s lovably odd younger brother. Or Agent Seagull Martin as he goes by on the official reports. Gully is obsessed with investigating the world from underneath his pig snout mask. For him, assessing the latest appearances in the Martin family (Detective ‘Evil’ Eve, and tragic Luke) is just as important as investigating actual criminal activity (the mysterious Brickers who have been vandalising the neighborhood).

Sky’s investigating too, the mystery behind the sad looking girl on the posters on the walls. Her investigation leads her to a much darker place, where silver scarved, lonely eyed girls cry for recognition from the depths of the ocean. It leads her to Luke, who is searching for the truth behind a sister that he didn’t know. It leads her to Nancy, her glamorous older friend who seems to hold the secret to living in the palm of her hand, but whose cracks are starting to show. It leads her to Quinn, to her mother, to her father, and finally back to herself.

This is a coming of age story where everything and nothing matters all at once. The hormones are so strong that you’ll find yourself fifteen again, looking wildly for that compass to stop the world from spinning out of control around you. It’s brilliant, and messy and real, set in a place that everyone will recognise even if you’ve never been there before.

3 thoughts on “Review – Girl Defective – by Simmone Howell

  1. Pingback: AWW2013 Crime Roundup #6 | Australian Women Writers Challenge

  2. Pingback: Melbourne Writers Festival | Fiction is like a box of chocolates...

  3. Pingback: Book Notes - Simmone Howell "Girl Defective" |

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