KYD YA Championship People’s Choice

by Kill Your Darlings , August 10, 20125 Comments

As the penultimate week of the KYD YA Championship draws to a close, the team here at Kill Your Darlings thought we’d encourage you to nominate your favourite non KYDYAC-shortlisted book for the KYD YA People’s Choice category, by sharing our picks from the last 30 years.

Bec Starford – Editor
I’d nominate the underrated Victor Kelleher and his disturbing psychological thriller, Del-Del, which terrified me as a teenager. His Parkland trilogy was also a favourite.

Hannah Kent Deputy Editor
I was a big fan of Gillian Rubinstein’s Galax-Arena, which led me to create my own language (I still have the notebooks to prove it).

Estelle Tang – Online Editor
I am a staunch supporter of about 75% of the books listed here (the others simply because I haven’t read them), but there is one notable book missing from the list, in my opinion: Maureen McCarthy’s Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life. You want coming of age? You got it. The book follows three country girls as they enter their university years and the big smoke – Carmel is an incredibly shy girl who doesn’t know where she fits in, Jude is struggling with the legacy of her father’s death in South America, and Kat … well, she’s used to getting her own way. This book held my hand gently and firmly into adulthood. I read it again and again for its strongly Melbourne-based transitional tale (what up Canning St, Carlton!). This is a book that tells you: Follow your dreams! Become who you are! Love your friends! – but doesn’t say that it’s easy.

Stephanie Van Schilt – Online Intern

I’m going to admit it: I definitely have some kind of ‘high school hangover’. I think most people do. When a twitter of teenagers board my tram in a morning, I instantly feel self-conscious and nervous – the school anxiety that plagued me during those frightful years has not yet been overthrown by my adult sensibilities (rather, perhaps exacerbated by my maturing misanthropy). For this reason, among many others, I fell for Helen Barnes’ Killing Aurora while studying YA lit at uni. Reading this book as a 19-year-old did nothing to detract from its power to encapsulate that confusing, dramatic and occasionally traumatic time in a young girl’s life. The story follows two teen girls, Aurora and Web, and their battles with life, school and self. Barnes deftly tackles major themes like body image, female identity and middle-class Australian life, all the while writing with heart, humility and a brilliantly dark sense of humour. It is definitely my personal choice.

Emily Laidlaw – Online Marketing Intern
I read a lot of Margaret Clark in the years overlapping primary school and high school, and I can now see why. Upon rereading the first few pages of Fat Chance, one of her most popular series and my personal favourite, my cheeks burned at the sheer melodrama of it all: it was basically an uncomfortable reminder of teenage-me. Fat Chance is narrated by fourteen-year-old Lisa, an overweight and painfully shy schoolgirl, who’s convinced happiness and the boy of her dreams will come, if only she could shed a few kilos and look like the cover girls in Molly magazine. This speedy plot synopsis might suggest a superficiality in the novel’s tone and theme, though Clark’s writing is anything but. Rather, this book tackles heavy issues such as body image and self-esteem in a funny and, thankfully, non-cheesy way. Fat Chance reminds readers that humour is the best defence against the crippling self-doubt of early adolescence – a message which, in today’s increasingly image-focused society, is especially important.


People, it’s time to choose! We know there are endless Australian YA classics beyond our nominated shortlist, so if your favourite was left on the shelf, vote for it to be the KYD YA Championship People’s Choice by clicking this link and following the prompts.

You still have one more week to vote for the KYDYAC title you think should win the KYD YA Championship crown. Click here to make your vote count.

Heading into our final week, the polls will close at 5pm next Friday, 17 August. Cue the fanfare, as we’ll be announcing our winners on Tuesday 21 August, so be sure to champion your favourite and go into the draw to win some amazing prizes!

  • Agnes Nieuwenhuizen

    Excellent to see Maureen McCarthy’s QUEEN KAT, CARMEL & ST JUDE GET A LIFE in the mix. It was on my shortlist.Also loved CROSS MY HEART and looking forward to her forthcoming blockbuster, THE CONVENT.

  • Judith Ridge

    Is Victor Kelleher really under-rated? He won many awards and shortlisting in the 80s and 90s, and his books are frequently taught in schools. He’s perhaps not so well read these days, as he’s not publishing much, but he certainly was one of the most acclaimed writers of the 90s.

    Stephanie, I’m with you on Killing Aurora. It’s another horribly forgotten book (Like Loving Athena, my contribution to the Debate). And let’s not forget Anna Fienberg’s ground-breaking Borrowed Light, or Margo Lanagan’s powerful and troubling Touching Earth Lightly. (Long before she turned to spec fiction, Margo was getting under our skins with her unflinching novels about teen sexuality.)

  • Kate O’D

    Yes! Queen Kat is such a favourite of mine, has a special place in my bookshelf, and heart.

    Killing Aurora was another one I was trying to remember when thinking about Dark Books – over on the Sonya Hartnett KYDYAC post. Is SPECTACULAR.

  • caroline

    like you Stephanie, Killing Aurora really spoke to me, which suprised me as i read it as an adult, too. i wish i had it to guide me through those teenage years. instead it gave an insight of a city school life and made me glad i never experienced the public transport nightmare that i now witness every weekday morning. as an actual teenager Queen Kat…, Looking for Alibrandi & The Tomorrow series were big hitters along with The Juniper Game by New Zealander Sherryl Jordan. loving this championship. thanks for bringing YA memories to the surface.

  • Fee Hulton

    Maybe it’s a bit young for the young adults tag, but I remember really loving Playing Beatie Bow. It stuck with me for so long that in my later years of high school when I visited Sydney for the first time, I ran around the Rocks trying to relive some of my favourite scenes… Other books that left a huge mark on me as a young adult (although I struggle to know if they fit in the category properly) are My Place by Sally Morgan – completely changed my life at 14. And finally – my mum’s an English teacher and she forced me to read Midnite when I was about 12. I really resented her at the time, but that book has stayed so vividly in my memory all these years that I’m quite fond of it in retrospect!


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