Girls in Boys' Cars


Publication Date: 27 Jul. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781760982980

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    Rosa was never really trying to hurt anyone, no matter what they said in court.

    But she’s ended up in juvenile jail anyway, living her life through books and wondering why her best mate Asheeka disappeared.

    A page-turning novel about a complicated friendship; a road trip through NSW in a stolen car; the stories that define us; and two funny, sharp, adventurous young women who refuse to be held back any longer.

    Information

    Book Type:
    Age Group: 16 years +
    Traffic Lights:
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 5/5

    Review

    School friends Rosa and Asheeka have been mates forever. Rosa’s the nerdy one, while Asheeka is one of the cool girls. Growing up in Paramatta they know little of the world beyond Western Sydney or of their respective heritages—life is failing at school and hanging out at the local Maccas with the neighbourhood boys.

    Asheeka’s boyfriend Arnold loves his car much more than he does her and has started hitting her. Being a young Indian woman, she has no value in her community, so receives no sympathy or help. Rosa just thinks herself invisible, as she’s pulled along on Asheeka’s coattails. Her parents are divorced and don’t know where she is half the time.

    One evening the two young women decide to steal Arnold’s beloved car and embark on a road trip around country New South Wales. To survive they shoplift and steal credit cards. Along the way they meet numerous characters who all have an input into their story and help them to understand themselves. They fight, hurt each other, separate, and finally return home together. They return Arnold’s car—now painted bright pink—and then Rosa drives it into a pole. Asheeka walks away, but Rosa is arrested.

    This is predominantly a story of self-discovery. It is told from Rosa’s point of view using tightly-focused stream-of-consciousness, melding recollections from the road trip and her friendship with Asheeka into the present. An ongoing mystery is the meaning behind the books someone is sending Rosa with letters underlined, and at the end Rosa puts the letters together to find a message from Asheeka—she says she is working on a fruit farm and figuring things out. The references to books and stories add a layer of complexity, and act both as a touchstone for Rosa’s bookwormish past and an exploration of the power of stories.

    There is a deep core of anger in the novel, and the two girls’ actions can be understood as lashing out against an invincible foe—societal pressures, misogyny, and the way that women hurt and objectify one another within a patriarchal society.

    A powerful book about growing up, cultural pressures, and finding your place in the world.

    Themes

    friendship, peer pressure, cultural pressures, expectations, self-reflection, road trip, stealing, evading police, rural NSW, growing up, prison, family

    Content Notes

    1. Language: f**k x 6, dick x 4, bitch x 2, shit x 6. 2. Rosa works in a porn shop (p. 4). Asheeka and Rosa discuss sex—Asheeka has just slept with James, and isn’t sure if she regrets it or not. They talk about how it was underwhelming and not as magical as everyone says it is. Rosa mentions that her mum says sex is better in the imagination (p. 144-146). Rosa says she has had sex a few times (p. 94). 3. Smoking (p. 50, 64, 117, 144). 3. Alcohol (p. 26, 139, 141). 4. Asheeka has a black eye (p. 30). Asheeka hits a police officer with a can of corn; he is knocked out cold (p. 111). Someone stands on Rosa’s foot and rips off her toenail (p. 140). Asheeka slaps Rosa (p. 270). 5. A woman at a bar jokes about being a fortune teller (p. 278).