Yellow by Megan Jacobsen
Published January 2016 by Penguin
Rating: 2 stars
From the blurb: If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn't bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She'll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn't haunt her. Things aren't so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
Yellow, Megan Jacobsen's debut novel, is set in a small town near Byron Bay. Kirra is fourteen and lives with her mum, now an alcoholic since Kirra's father left for another woman. Kirra's also having trouble at school with her former friends.
The opening scenes involving Kirra, her parents, the playground antics all felt so real and very Australia-in-the-90s to me, but then Kirra kills a dog and finds a haunted telephone box and the book completely lost me. Instead, I wish this had stayed a story about a girl struggling with her alcoholic mum, her absent father, and her bullies.
The ghost element felt out of place and underdeveloped - Kirra stumbles across an abandoned phone box and starts talking to a boy but assumes it's a joke. Later she rings the police to report his murder twenty years ago, but Boogie, the ghost boy, never specified how long ago he was murdered (I read the scene over and over again to be sure), so I don't know why Kirra said that after their very brief first conversation.
Also, Kirra's voice didn't quite feel true to me, sometimes she seemed about twelve years old, and other times she seemed older. It was great to see Kirra making new friends, and I wanted to see her life improve, but I didn't find myself connected to her.
This sort of story (minus the paranormal element) is usually something I'd really enjoy reading about, it has all my favourite things: alcoholics, bullies, absent parents, but in this case I had no interest in what would happen, stopped reading and started skimming just to get to the end.
Ableist language: words used such as retard, dumb, and Kirra and her bullies referred to a group of students as 'challenged'.
While I wouldn't jump to recommend Yellow, there are a bunch of bloggers who loved this book and had a completely different reading experience to me, so if the premise sounds interesting to you, give it a go.
I find this such an interesting and unique cover.