Seventeen-year-old Natalie has two lives. At home, her life is governed by the unspoken rules of her Christian Orthodox background. At school, she is the Syrian girl who never goes to parties. She pretends she doesn’t care, but deep down she just wants to be like everyone else.
This story is sure to resonate with many who are just trying to fit in to school life in Australia, whilst trying to maintain their cultural and religious beliefs, and the family values.
Natalie is a Year 12 student caught between two worlds. Her world at school, where she has friends that she is not allowed to socialise with or attend parties with, and the strict home life where she must attend church every Sunday and is expected to one day marry a boy from ‘the community’.
But Natalie’s life starts to fall apart when a new boy from Perth, Chris, moves to her school. They are immediately attracted to each other, and Natalie is now caught between her two worlds in a way that she has never been in the past. How can she be with Chris and still be true to her family?
However, Chris is not her only problem. There are brewing issues and tensions at home between her once loving and devoted parents, her relationship with her best friend is fractured, and her sister has health issues - Natalie’s whole life seems to be spiralling out of control.
This book touches on, and handles in a sensitive manner, many family and social issues including cultural differences, teenage sex, freedom, domestic and alcohol abuse, and gambling. But it is ultimately a book about love, family, and learning to follow your dreams.
A great read, that will most appeal to girls 15+.
Reviewed by Sam