Reviewed: 2017-04-26 - (Review Updated: 2017-04-27)
Once again, I've been reading through the archives looking at completed "coming of age" stories. Obvious advantage of completed stories is being able to read the story at my pace rather than one or two chapters per week.
Several others have reviewed this story but I wanted to pull it back to the forefront. It's a good read, no, it is a great read. Well written with well developed characters. Main story line is about a self absorbed Aussie teen who realizes others have problems far greater than his own. He reaches out to a classmate, an illegal alien who is carrying a great burden on her teen shoulders. He and other classmates and their parents get involved to attempt to make this girl's life better. Do they succeed? Read it and find out for yourself.
This is an Australian story. One of the central themes comes from a classroom assignment: What is an Australian and what are Australian values? It is a look at the effect of middle eastern immigrants on Australia and the country's reaction.
Very timely for us Americans. What makes us Americans and what do we value? Are those who immigrated from other countries American? What about the babies they brought with them or their babies who were born here? Can you be American and wear a hijab or attend a mosque? Or if you Spanish was your first language?
Reviewed: 2016-05-31 - (Review Updated: 2016-05-31)
So here I lie in bed at 3:23 AM after finishing this story. The story is about a young Australian teen, really about a couple of them, and their coming of age, not necessarily as measured by time, but rather as measured by maturity.
This was another story recommended by another reader. He termed it a political story, and although politics are discussed, I would not classify the story in that manner. Instead, with her impromptu speech about Australia Day, Shahia wins the reader's hearts.
The plot is well developed, with the story branching out just enough to fill in the necessary gaps that lead to understanding. I give it an outstanding score of 10.
Technical score was extremely good, with very few errors throughout. I give it an A+ (9). Some of the links in the story did not work either, but I loved how the author explained some Aussie terms to us who are not from Down Under. As a guess, the link end location no longer exists. Perhaps it was my Kindle, but a "‑" kept appearing in a number of places where it was apparent that a comma or dash was intended. Those seemed to start in Chapter 16, so it was not something seen through the entire story.
For me to give a story a 10 for personal appeal, it requires a tale that I would gladly reread again. This is such a story. Just a word of warning. Start it early enough in the day so you don't spend a sleepless night.
Reviewed: 2014-04-01 - (Review Updated: 2015-10-01)
I am not going to go in depth as the other reviews cover this story quite well. I just finished this story and have added it to my personal favorites. I would recommend it to anyone but especially fans of the Coming of Age genre and anyone interested in the proper way to include politics into a story.
I have opted not to use the number ratings and only offer a written review. I hope that you still find my reviews helpful despite the lack of a numerical rating. As always, feedback is always welcome.
This site is full of coming-of-age tales... some of them really good. This one trumps them, though, by revealing itself to be far more than your hackneyed common-or-garden coming-of-age formula.
Part of it is the setting - we find ourselves in modern Australia, and Oz Ozzie portrays it with an intimacy and a fondness that's infectious. For me as a Brit - and I guess for other Europeans, Americans, Canadians etc - there's a curious blend of the familiar and the exotic. It's often the oddest things that seem strange, but Ozzie's brief 'cultural footnotes' guide us through most of it... while they're a little intrusive at times, there's usually loads of interesting stuff in there that can lead to hours mis-spent googling contemporary Australian issues!
Then there's the social commentary. Make no bones about it, there's a strong political message here that will of course not please everyone. Issues like racial tolerance and immigration are going to ruffle a few feathers, but things are handled maturely and I seldom felt I was being hit of the head with the central ethos of the tale. Without giving away any plot points, there's an innovative public protest toward the end of the story that you end up wishing you'd been involved with!
But it's the characters that really hold this all together. The two protagonists both change a lot during the course of the story; Chris starts out as a marginally unsympathetic character but we end up identifying strongly with him. Shahia's introduction is handled particularly well - we discover her story only as Chris does, a neat narrative trick that is both entirely rewarding as a reader and also integral to the story.
The story leans towards the saccharine from time to time, and there aren't that many surprises in the plot - but then this isn't a whodunnit, it's an innovative and interesting take on a well-trod path, and almost every step is worth it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and heartily recommend it.
It's a rare day when I read a 40+ chapter story in a single afternoon. It's rarer still when the review I post is the first to make use of the newly-extended maximum review length (thanks Lazeez!), so buckle up: it's about to get serious in here.
"Australian Story" is a rare and remarkable piece of work in a number of ways. Seldom do I get the warm-and-fuzzies from reading, and even less often do I finish reading and then have a huge case of them. I'm going to make a strong attempt to avoid spoilers in this review because I believe that this is a story which should be read by everyone. It's that good.
This work is, as the name implies, based in Australia, and it incorporates a tremendous amount of the culture. Phrases, idioms, and events are constantly referenced, and any non-native will surely be grateful for the author's thoughtfulness in providing footnotes whenever these appear; most of the events and historical people referenced are real, and links to further reading are readily available, also in footnotes. Australian culture and morals is one of the focal points of this story, so having more information here is certainly appreciated. With all of this said, however, it's not necessary to check any of the "extended reading" links because the story explains events sufficiently on its own.
The question that one character raises of "What does it mean to be Australian?" is a truly fascinating idea, and it is thoroughly explored in this story from the perspectives of high school students. I found myself oddly passionate about the country despite never having visited, as this story expanded on points previously made by a good friend (dinkum mate) of mine from Australia. By the end, I was halfway to buying plane tickets and moving, so it might be wise to lock down your travel planning abilities until you've recovered from the ending.
Positives aside, the primary conflict point of bigotry, which is such a divisive issue, results in such a huge amount of community-building here. Prejudice versus both patriotism and morality is a constant struggle--doing the right thing can be exceedingly difficult, and this really puts it in perspective. I would consider myself far from being in any way prejudiced against others because of where they come from, but this story made me consider that maybe there's more to it than just "not being prejudiced"; maybe you've got to consistently stand up to those who are to really make things better for people in need.
Characters are absolutely a strong point in this story. As in The Odyssey, nobody goes unnamed, and no character exists without some backing personality which feels genuine. The events here are almost exclusively character-driven, with no deus ex machina, so all of the time spent introducing readers to the cast and exploring them is definitely effectively used.
Oz Ozzie starts the reader observing a young Australian named Chris. This young man suspects that he may be in trouble with the police due to an impromptu visit--a visit triggered by characters who return later in the story, because no event or name is a mere placeholder here. Chris carries a load of guilt from some past choices relating to the story's themes, and within the first couple pages it becomes easy to establish a connection with him and get invested in his turmoil. He's a well thought-out character who remains congruent to himself and who avoids the classic pitfalls of being either too perfect (ie. not well-enough developed) or being a frustrating dramafest who never makes the right choices. He learns and develops through the story, and every point in his mental journey is reasonable and logical. More than that, however, I found him to be quite an inspiring character from his actions and choices.
Lisa was a character who I did not expect to become nearly as important in the way that she did. She gets introduced early on in one role, and I admit that I had a hard time allowing her out of it in my mind--likely a result of reading so many other stories where she would have been bent over a desk for the main character within the first couple chapters. This is not the case here, and her growth is slow but steady. She has her own personality and her own demons to battle, and all of it comes together in the end with spectacular results: Lisa is awesome.
Shahia is the last of the "big" characters in the cast, and I think that fully describing her in a review would take far more page space than I care to spend--better to just read the story. What I will say, however, is that the author projects a great voice through her without making it sound preachy. This isn't Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, it's a story about a group of school kids in their journey to adulthood, and I never had trouble remembering that. Suffice to say that I think readers will find it very easy to connect with her and be cheering her on through all the conflicts.
Sex is nonexistent in this story, so don't bother looking for it. The romance here is strong but subtle; it grows slowly over time. It's a big focus of the story, and it gets treated with the appropriate gravitas that the rest of the story maintains. At no point do relationships start going haywire with random bullshit, because this isn't that type of story: the drama is elsewhere, for the most part.
On a technical level, this story is very well written. There's very few errors, and I would have given it a 10 despite them if it weren't for one exceptionally glaring one which literally did not make my eyeballs bleed. This aside, there's lots of great use of language in here, and, as a previous reviewer notes, some of the speeches are truly amazing and uplifting. I can see myself coming back to them in the future if I ever need a pick-me-up.
Another previous reviewer described this story as being "almost like a fairy tale for big people." I can definitely see that being the case, but I had another, darker thought as I read through with this reviewer's words in mind. At one point early on, Chris gets knocked unconscious. This is a turning point in the story on a number of levels, and things get crazier and crazier up until the resolution. My thought was that this is roughly where the "fairy tale" aspect begins in earnest, but there's no such thing in real life, and the author proves again and again that this is an obvious fact; what if, at this point, Chris never woke up, and the rest of the story was just a dream that he had while in a coma? Despite this line of thinking not being the author's intent, the fact that such deep considerations can be made makes this, in my opinion, an even stronger work since it makes followup readings more interesting and nuanced. A story with re-read value is always a great thing.
Anyway, I realize that I've crippled my reviewing abilities a bit more than usual by reducing spoilers to a bare minimum, but, as I said, I strongly believe that anyone on this site who actually has the patience and mental fortitude to read one of my long, rambling, only-sometimes-relevant reviews should read this story. In fact, they should stop reading this review right now and start reading "Australian Story", because I'm going to stop writing now to do the same.
This tale is one of those top stories of a set of youngsters coming of age, learning what love and commitment are all about.
It's a romantic tale, one that can be read anywhere; sexual descriptions aren't necessary in this story to show a true love.
With it's setting in Australia, for U.S. readers, at least it's almost like a fairy tale for big people.
Reviewed: 2008-04-27 - (Review Updated: 2008-04-28)
How does a self centered, shallow young teen in modern day Australia grow to become a caring, responsible near adult? Care for someone else! Chris, Shahia, Lisa, and their other friends all perform well above the call of duty when they are threatened, surprising those around them and probably themselves with what they can accomplish. If you are anything like me, you won't be able to put it down so start reading this on a Friday night and maybe you'll finish it by the end of the weekend.
The main and secondary characters are well developed and you come to love them very quickly. The situations are timely and all too believable (until the end where my cynicism toward government makes me wary). There are two speeches that to me defined the whole story, Shahia's "Australian" speech, and Chris' "Hero" speech. This is a story of growing, of love, and of heros.
This is not a sex story so if that's what you are looking for, skip it. If you want a compelling plot and characters you care about give it a try.
Quality is great and I suspect by now that appeal to reviewer is pretty obvious.