Tag Archives: #MeToo

The Marvellous Mirza Girls – Sheba Karim


Harper Collins Australia

March 2023

  • ISBN: 9780062845498
  • ISBN 10: 0062845497
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

I have to say I really enjoyed this and read it over several nights last week but I’m also going to say upfront that despite the publisher’s suggested age rating of 13 years upwards DO NOT even think about it being available to anyone below your seniors – IMO. There is liberal swearing, drug use and sexual references – in fact the ‘steamy romance wording in the blurb gives enough clues.

Noreen the protagonist has just finished senior school and is ready for college but her overwhelming grief for her aunt Sonia still weighs her down, even after a year, and makes her feel lost and without direction.

When her single mum, Ruby, is set to go to India for work for several months, Noreen decides to take a gap year and go with her. Being desi Pakistani but raised in the States, will not necessarily make it easy for the Mirza girls in India but both feel confident they can make it work. And both feel that they can honour Sonia by visiting the places she had always dreamed travelling to, and paying homage.

When Noreen is introduced to handsome and charming Kabir, their friendship quickly evolves to a hot and spicy relationship, and despite Noreen’s misgivings because of the limited time she has with him, both fall more in love. There are, of course, complications: Kabir’s flamboyant and narcissistic parents are far from enchanted by Noreen, and then his father becomes caught up in a #MeToo scandal as this movement escalates in a country unfortunately known for it’s violent and objectifying treatment of women, Noreen’s digging to know more about her absent father gives her troubled responses, both the young people are struggling to know which direction to take for a future life and career and the generational trauma that followed the Partition. All in all though, these dramas are offset by some humour as well as a fascinating insight into daily life in modern India.

As I said, I enjoyed it very much, particularly for those insights into food, places, spirituality and culture of India but I would not countenance giving it to any student under Year 11/12 and even then would certainly put my usual disclaimer inside the front cover to advise of content. I think particularly if you are in a church school, you would need to be extra cautious. Rather than YA, I am inclined to call it ‘new adult’ a term being deployed more regularly in some circles.

It certainly has some very worthwhile messages about the treatment of women and the deeply-rooted attitudes of many men, especially in certain cultures but the general narrative and the activities of the young characters and their friends (and the drug use/partying extends to the adults, by the way) would be quite confronting for many young readers (and their parents).

Recommended for mature readers over 16.

The Edge of Limits – Susanne Gervay


Flying Elephant Media

November 2022

ISBN: 9780648203551

RRP: $15.99

Susanne Gervay is no stranger to tackling difficult topics in her books and this one, is possibly one of the trickiest to navigate and pull off successfully, with the utmost sensitivity and awareness for the audience. The topic of consent, consensual relationships, toxic masculinity and the explosion of the #MeToo movement in the past few years validates the need for such books to put in the hands of our young people as educators, and indeed as citizens. One has only to read the plethora media reports of the unceasing incidences of these behaviours to know this truth.

Sam is 17, a caring and compassionate young man, who has been raised by his single mum and his grandfather. His finely tuned moral compass and the example of wholesome male role models, he owes to his grandpa for whom he is grieving. The loss of his grandpa has really affected him and even without that, the upcoming school ‘camp’ feels him with dread.

Not so much a camp as an eight-day ordeal, forced to endure with boys he considers to be almost savages, particularly after recently witnessing a sexual assault on a teen girl at a recent rave party. Sam knows the boys involved but has no idea how to handle his knowledge and, for sure, feels he can’t do anything while trapped in close quarters with some of these young thugs.

Throughout the arduous trekking with its abseiling, extremes of temperature, deprivations, bullying and intense physical challenges, Sam does his best to sort through his responses to both the assault, his own feelings about his girlfriend and the loss of his grandfather. Calling upon her son’s input to create as authentic a character, voice and situations as possible, Susanne’s novel is both intense and gripping. Sam’s dilemma and the dread of other boys when faced with the violence of the bullies is palpable and disturbing, creating within the reader a visceral reaction which leads to a righteous indignation and the need for justice.

It’s not a long novel but it is potent and, in my opinion, should be compulsory reading for secondary students both boys and girls [for heaven’s sake English teachers, can you start ditching some of those fossilised ‘classics’ especially the ones with now inappropriate terminology that you have to keep bleeping out!].

I am certainly giving it my highest recommendation and urge you to put it on your shelves, sell it to your admin if not as an English novel then reading for whatever your school calls it personal development sessions. Thank you Susanne for your determination to bring this to the forefront of teen consciousness.