Alice Pung Black Inc. Books Published November 2014 Thank you to the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not alter my review in any way.
I’ve had some trouble writing this review. I just really loved this book, and that makes them so much harder to review. I will try but chances are I won’t even be coherent…
Laurinda is the funny and insightful story of Lucy Lam, who is given a scholarship place at the exclusive Laurinda Ladies College. This is no ordinary school. Academics is not enough – the young ladies of Laurinda must be passionate, proud and representative of their school. Embodying all of these qualities – and more – is a trio of girls known as the Cabinet, more powerful than the other students and even some of their teachers. Lucy observes the Cabinet and their ways, and as they take her under their wing, Lucy’s identity and integrity is at stake as she struggles through the new world of privilege and wealth.
I loved this. I really did. Written as a letter to her friend Linh, in Laurinda Lucy explores the world of her new exclusive private school that have graciously accepted her as a scholarship student – an Asian girl from the poorer side of town, no less. There are the Cabinet at the centre, with the rest of the school bowing to them and the ability to even dethrone some teachers – nobody wants to cross them, even when what they’re doing is wrong. Lucy can’t believe some of the stuff she sees but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. She is even taken in by the Cabinet, she goes to their pristine houses, she follows where they lead, she observes them up close. How did three teenage girls end up in such a position of power?
It is only when other students treat the Cabinet like it has power that they actually have power over the rest of the school. It all depends on how they are perceived by the other students. If the rest of the student body stopped treating the Cabinet like they were more special, more important, then they would find they are no different to anybody else. Lucy’s courage was what stood out to me in this novel more than anything else, although I loved the writing, the vivid picture of Mrs. Lam sewing clothes in the garage and the family eating on newspapers, and Lucy’s biting observations, I just really loved her courage. You will cheer for her, like I did, you will want her to show them all, to prove them all wrong. What transpires is better, even though in a way she did show them. See? I’m rambling now, in an effort to avoid spoilers!
This is a fantastic book that I enjoyed from start to finish. A novel of listening to your own voice, of finding yourself, in a competitive school environment where its easy to lose your sense of self. A diverse cast of characters and the witty writing by a fantastic new voice in Australian fiction really bring this story together and will make an enjoyable read for everyone. I hope there will be more fiction from Alice Pung!