Goose, by Dawn O’Porter is the second book in a projected series of four that tells the story of the friendship of Renee and Flo, two girls growing up on Guernsey in the Nineties. The series started with Paper Aeroplanes, which I reviewed for Amazon Vine a while back. Having come across Goose in the local library I was curious as to what happens next and brought the book home.
Firstly, these books are absolutely for teens. There is swearing, there is sex, there are drugs, there are all the things we hope teenagers don’t do, but which they invariably do, and quite a lot of the content is pretty graphic when it comes to describing those things. There are also some deeply sad and tragic episodes which would probably be very upsetting for a younger audience. They were pretty upsetting for me.
They are also absolutely for girls. Renee and Flo take turns in elucidating the narrative as the books progress, and all the events are filtered through the experiences of teenage girls. Boys appear in the book as fairly marginal figures and mostly as a foil for the lives and experiences of the women.
This was a more powerful read than Paper Aeroplanes. It digs deeper into the psyche of both girls and has them experiencing a great tumult of events as they prepare to leave Guernsey for the wider world.
Having said that, I can’t say it was a better book. As the girls mature, I had rather hoped the dialogue might, both inner and outer. A lot of the issue for me was that both girls sound like primary school girls, possibly with a convent education, despite that clearly not being the case, and the disparity between their experiences and their understanding of the world, and the way they articulate that in the dialogue of the book really began to seriously bug me by about half way through, particularly on the part of Renee’s character.
I have a lot of time for Dawn O’Porter as a person. I’ve followed her career with interest and generally enjoy the programmes she makes and the articles she writes, but I do feel that there needs to be some progression in style for the third book or the girls will be forever babyish, and this will dilute some of the serious messages in the book.
I do think these are pretty important in terms of teen reading, as they deal with double standards, the turmoil of modern sexuality, the need for control of a person’s life, and what happens when the choices you make spin you out of control, or simply life conspires against you.