Emily Gale, Nova Weetman
4 May 2021
Paperback / softback
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It’s midnight and I’m alone in the kitchen eating a cold potato scallop. Coach O’Call would say something like, ‘That’s not what I expect from a scholarship girl!’ because I have to be up for squad training in five hours and I’m not supposed to go near potato scallops, and—oh, yeah—it’s my fifth.
Cat has recently started at a new school on a sports scholarship, and she’s feeling the pressure of early morning training sessions and the need for total commitment. Fanny loves to swim and she lives for racing, but family chores and low expectations for girls make it very hard for her to fit in even the occasional training session.
Cat and Fanny have never met. They both live in the same Sydney suburb, but in different worlds, or at least different times—Cat in current-day Sydney, and Fanny in 1908. But one day, time slips and they swap places.
As each girl lives the other’s life, with all the challenges and confusion it presents, she comes to appreciate and understand herself and the role of swimming in her own life.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Cat and Fanny, Elsewhere Girls is a moving and funny story of two girls with a deep connection, one based on the Australian Olympic champion, Fanny Durack. It’s a fresh and engaging exploration of the challenges and pressures for young women growing up in the past and today.
InformationBook Type: Junior High
Age Group: 10 to 14 years
Traffic Lights: Green
Class Novel: No
Good Reads Rating: 5/5
Literary Rating: 5/5
Elsewhere Girls is the story of two girls living more than a hundred years apart who inadvertently swap lives. Both girls live in Sydney, but Fanny lives in 1908 with her large family above a hotel. Meanwhile, Cat lives in 2021 with her Dad and sister above a mini-mart. Her mother is a flight attendant and often works on overseas flights. Cat’s family has recently moved to Sydney when their Dad lost his job in Orange.
Cat won a swimming scholarship to attend Victoria Grammar along with her sister but she’d rather be in Orange with her friends. Both Cat and Fanny are hoping to qualify for the State swimming finals but Fanny’s times are slipping and Cat is struggling to keep motivated.
The life swap, which is somehow connected to an antique stopwatch that belonged to Cat’s auntie, occurs when they are both swimming laps at Wylie’s Baths in Coogee. Suddenly they are thrown into each other’s lives and confronted with all sorts of unexpected challenges.
Cat is thrust into a world of chores at a hotel with primitive conditions while Fanny is coping with a myriad of unfamiliar electronic gadgets. The experience teaches them both about themselves, their priorities and the value of family and friendships.
When they eventually manage to figure out how to get back to their old lives, both girls are happy to return. Fanny is happy to go back to her Edwardian life despite the advantages of modernity, while Cat becomes more appreciative of all her privileges when she returns from the past.
This is a clever, well-told story about growing up in vastly different circumstances yet learning to appreciate your lifestyle. The book is written by two authors, each one taking a different character. Overall an enjoyable read.
time slip, family, friendship, swimming, 1900’s Sydney, modern life, priorities, Australian history