Obstacle Number 4+ in the What’s in a Name Reading Challenge: Creepy and Maud by Dianne Touchell…
Taken from: the Non-Christie Listie as a late replacement
Category: Five – a book with an emotion in the title
Once again, I’m making a bit of a tenuous link for this category, but I figure if it’s possible to “feel creepy”, then creepy must be an emotion.
Creepy and Maud is told from the alternating viewpoints of Creepy (not his real name…obviously) and Maud (not her real name….less obviously); teenage neighbours who conduct most of their interactions through the use of binoculars and messages flashed through their respective windows. The story explores how the friendship – if you can call it that – develops amidst the daily dramas of life in the teens’ less than idyllic family settings.
This Book’s Point of Difference:
Well. I suppose this one differs from most YA stories in that while it focuses on the relationship between teenagers of the opposite sex, there is no reference to romance. Not even a hint of it. It’s not really that kind of book.
– Once again, this book has that lovely familiar feeling common to many Australian stories. Well, familiar if you are an Australian anyway.
– There’s a lot to keep you interested in the content here – intriguing relationship dynamics abound. Creepy’s parents communicate almost solely through the medium of shouting (and on occasion, acts of irate dog), Maud resorts to speaking only in French with particular irksome people in her life and the mothers of the two teens are engaged in a titanic struggle over the etiquette involved in borrowing and loaning casserole dishes.
– The book doesn’t pull any punches. If you like your YA fiction gritty and realist, then you’ll probably take to this one like a duck to duck-friendly wetland environments.
– Along with the lovely sense of familiarity common to Australian stories, Creepy and Maud delivers a standard dose of that depressing sense of realism and un-sugar-coated discomfort also common to many Australian stories. There is a bit of humour to lighten the load, but for some I fear this book may come off too dreary to really enjoy.
– I’m not sure whether it was just me and my cold, stoney heart, but I didn’t really feel overly sympathetic towards the two main characters. I’m not sure whether I was supposed to. But this was a bit of a con for me, if only for the fact that it would prevent me bothering to re-read this title.
Overall, I found this a slightly uncomfortable reading experience, although I can see why it was shortlisted for a Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Older Readers (a high accolade indeed!). I felt there was something missing in the connection between the characters that stopped it from really reaching the “must-buy/must-re-read” category for me. On the other hand, Touchell’s debut is a solid read if you enjoy YA books that explore themes of unconventional friendship and the ugly repercussions for those who insist on being a square peg in a round hole (or indeed, vice versa) in certain environments.
Until next time,