Young Adult: Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon

Young Adult: Writing Clementine by Kate GordonWriting Clementine by Kate Gordon
on 1st July 2014
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
You said we could write anything we wanted. The first thing that came into our minds. Blue fish, red fish, green fish...

Clementine Darcy is floundering. She wants to be the kind of a fish who swims to the swish of her own fins - upstream, not simply carried along by the current.

But she is finding the swirling waters of school and home difficult to navigate: her friendship group is splintering, her brother Fergus won't leave his room, her sister's life is not as perfect as she thought... And then there's the New Boy, who is dapper and intriguing, but hiding secrets of his own. Clem is desperate for everyone - including herself - to be happy, but she discovers that her idea of helping doesn't always work as well as she imagined.

Can Clem be the girl she wants to be? Will she learn to accept that there are things she can fix and things she cannot? Will she find a way to know the difference?

Clementine Darcy is just starting year 9 and finds herself a little disappointed by Ms Hiller’s philosophy class. Expecting to be devouring great works by influential thinkers, Clementine doesn’t see the point in being told to write whatever comes to her head. But as the year goes on Clementine finds herself sharing the highs and lows of her life with her teacher. Her friends are moving on with boyfriends and leaving Clem behind. Her brother hasn’t left his bedroom in a year and her perfect sister Sophie has her own set of problems. Clementine’s world is changing but as some things are ending, others are just beginning.

This is one of those books which seem sweet and fun at the start but once you get into the story, more layers are revealed. There are some incredibly sensitive issues brought up from depression to relationships with boys and the ever changing dynamic of female friendships. Clementine is an energetic and enthusiastic main character that the perfect choice of narrator. She misses the simplicity of childhood when plans with friends were movies and sleepovers whilst trying to adjust boys always being the forefront of her friends minds. Clem is also incredibly brave. This is a book which shows sometimes you don’t need to be saving the world to be brave. Sometimes regular people in everyday situations show how strong the human spirit is.

Steampunk isn’t something I’ve seen incorporated into any contemporary novels but I loved how Kate Gordon wove it into Writing Clementine. Fred is out of place in modern day Tasmania but somehow when he is with his Steampunk friends he is completely in his element. I love the idea that you can be born in the wrong time and yet still find a place in which you belong. Clementine’s relationship with Fred is great to watch as it develops from friends of convenience to more.

I loved the time I spent reading this book – I started it before bed and was up until I finished it! Clementine is charming and I was absorbed by reading her tell Ms. Hiller her story. The characters are realistic and relatable, each with their own set of problems. It was great to be able to watch Clementine grow over the school year. I recommend this book to fans of clean teen reads with characters of substance and just a hint of Victorian era elegance.


Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy.

Click here to check out my Q&A with author, Kate Gordon


  1. Great review!

    I also really enjoyed Writing Clementine and agree with your point about the strength of the human spirit during the everyday, which both Clem and Fred exhibit. It was just a really great, enjoyable read.

    Brit 🙂

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  3. I always love it when a short book managed to pack in many layers because it really shows that an author knows how to write. I’m thinking I’ll read this next or maybe next next. Lovely review Kate! 😀

  4. This one sounds incredible and have been itching to grab a copy. It’s amazing how such a short book (almost a novella compared to the lengthy reads that most of us pick up) and how much of an impact it has. I just finished We Were Liars, and that was the same. It sounds like a beautiful coming of age book, and I loved, ‘Sometimes regular people in everyday situations show how strong the human spirit is.’ Just brilliant Kate 🙂

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