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Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh

Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne based freelance writer, reviewer and young adult education specialist. Bec has worked on specialist literary events such as the A Thousand Words Festival. She speaks regularly about young adult fiction at professional development sessions, at school events and on Radio National’s Books & Arts Daily. She is currently working with the Stella Prize to set up a school’s program.

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Freedom Ride' by Sue Lawson

November 2015, no. 376 30 October 2015
In 1965 a busload of students drove through a number of small Australian towns to protest the treatment of Aboriginal people. These events are the backdrop for Sue Lawson's Freedom Ride, a novel set in the fictional town of Walgaree, where racial tensions are high. Robbie, the novel's young protagonist, is generally obliging, but he is at an age where he must choose between remaining silent in ord ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'The Protected' by Claire Zorn

December 2014, no. 367 01 December 2014
Following the success of her first novel, Claire Zorn displays her remarkable talent again in The Protected. Although the books are vastly different (The Sky So Heavy [2013] is a futuristic survival thriller, while The Protected is a coming-of-age story coloured by grief), thematically they have many similarities. Zorn is adept at exploring the challenges and complexities of growing up, and the fa ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Tigerfish' by David Metzenthen

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
Ryan Lanyon sees something special in Ariel the moment he meets her. He can tell that she is out of place here, in the middle of suburbia, where the too-bright mall lights offer no real security from the dangers outside. Ryan is an unlikely hero. Surprisingly insightful, he is the first of many characters in Tigerfish that encourage us to look beneath their rough exteriors. Ryan takes Ariel and h ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Cry Blue Murder' by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts

October 2013, no. 355 30 September 2013
Kim Kane and Marion Roberts co-write this eerie Melbourne-based thriller seamlessly. In this story that is every parent’s worst nightmare, we see schoolgirls snatched from the middle of their routine, presumed safe, suburban life. Celia and Alice don’t know the first girl taken or each other, but they connect on Facebook through their shared grief that this could happen to someone they have s ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf' by Ambelin Kwaymullina

September 2012, no. 344 28 August 2012
Dystopian fiction has surged in popularity in recent years, with books like The Hunger Games (2008) among the many Young Adult titles being devoured by younger and adult readers alike. There is a danger that the sudden influx of a genre in the marketplace, and the eagerness of authors to get their books into the hands of keen readers, will lead to a drop in the quality of writing, or to more predi ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'The Shiny Guys' by Doug MacLeod

July–August 2012, no. 343 04 July 2012
The Shiny Guys, quite a departure from Doug MacLeod’s usually quite light-hearted work, is nonetheless a real success. This foray into the world of mental illness and treatment calls to mind, and even refers directly to, complex works such as The Castle and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. A book about fear, uncertainty, and suffering, it is rich in complexities but perfectly told for its youn ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'A Pocketful of Eyes' by Lili Wilkinson

November 2011, no. 336 21 October 2011
Beatrice May Ross (Bee) is a list-maker, an amateur detective, a taxidermy assistant, and a regular teenage girl. She falls in love, fights with her best friend, and hates her mother’s new boyfriend, like plenty of adolescents. But she does so while stitching together a dead koala and trying to solve the ever-developing mystery surrounding the death of her mentor. ... (read more)

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Pig Boy' by J.C. Burke

July–August 2011, no. 333 29 June 2011
Damon Styles keeps a list of those who have crossed him. In a small, bully-rich town like Strathven, there are a lot of them. Damon has a plan, though, and getting his gun licence is only part of it. Next he needs to get a job with the Pigman. Nobody really knows the latter. He is foreign, shoots pigs, and keeps to himself, which is quite enough to fuel rumours in Strathven. Damon knows that the P ... (read more)