The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub
Published: March 1, 2016 by Harper Collins
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?
The Yearbook Committee is Sarah Ayoub's second novel, and like her debut, is set in Sydney. It combines two of my favourite themes in any sort of entertainment, whether it's books, tv shows, or movies: a random group of people forming friendships, and multiple plot lines woven together in a clever way. Writing a story revolving around one main character seems like a hard enough task to me, but focusing on five characters must be even trickier, though Sarah pulled this off deftly.
Each of the characters is well developed, with detailed home lives, personalities, hobbies or jobs. There's Ryan who has given up soccer after an accident last year, Tammi who wants to be a police officer like her dad, Charlie who is desperate to move back to Melbourne, Matty who is now taking care of his mother, and Gillian the girl putting up with constant bullying. They find themselves on the newly formed yearbook committee and watching their friendship slowly develop was wonderful.
Ayoub cleverly uses their monthly committee meetings as a way of moving the story forward and after a few disastrous attempts, they finally start working together, having fun, and interacting outside their meeting times.This was especially sweet for Charlie, Gillie, and Matty who were the least popular of the group.
The story takes a close look at bullying, particularly done through social media and my hear broke for Gillie, she really puts up with a lot at school and at home, and gaining new friends helped her immensely. I really felt for Tammi as well, her father is controlling and won't even acknowledge her reasons for wanting to become a cop, she also has to deal with the worst boyfriend ever. Matty's story highlights what it's like for a scholarship student at a private school who finds himself in charge of also bringing in the only income for the household, and how that effects his school life.
The pacing was perfect, I could feel the year start to speed up once they'd reached mid-way, and I knew from the prologue that the group were going to have to face something big at the final party of the year. In the case of some of the plot lines, I could see the way they would develop right away, others I thought would go in one direction but then I ended up surprised, and the ending definitely left me shocked and saddened.
Ableist language: dumb is used a couple of times, and there's also a mention of dumbing-down.
The Yearbook Committee is a beautifully written story of the way five students come together in their final year, with a focus on topics relevant to teens today.
I love this cover and thought I'd do nails to match using the camera and the cute swirls in the background.
I started with a base of black polish, BYS Black Satin.
I used acrylic paint for the rest.