Seventeen-year-old Delilah’s crazy life is about to get crazier. Ever since her father took off overseas, she’s been struggling to run the family’s cafe without him and survive high school. But after a misjudged crush on one of the cool girls, she’s become the school punchline as well. With all that’s on her plate she barely has time for her favourite distraction – spying on the beautiful Rosa, who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road.
Only her best friend Charlie knows how she feels about Rosa, but he has romantic problems of his own. When his plan to win an older woman’s heart goes horribly wrong, Del is the only one who can help Charlie stay out of jail.
All this leaves Del grappling with some seriously curly questions. Is it okay to break the law to help a friend? How can a girl tell another girl she likes her without it ending in humiliation and heartbreak? And – the big one – is it ever truly possible to dance in public without falling over?
The Flywheel has got such an amazing cover – on two separate occasions, friends of mine came up to me and asked me what I was reading, because they thought the cover was so striking. It’s funky enough that it appeals to the young adult audience, but the soft colours and cute illustrations mean that it appeals to a slightly older audience as well.
This debut novel by Australian author Erin Gough is a more mature young adult novel. Most of the story takes place outside of a high school setting, which was strange, but it made the story interesting. The main character is strong-willed and determined and gutsy, and I liked that. But she also makes rash decisions and can be extremely immature (to the point where I was gritting my teeth), but over the course of the novel, she matures and realises her faults and she works hard to fix her mistakes. One of the things that I loved most about this novel is that it’s inclusive of the LGBT community, which is rare in young adult fiction.
This book had a different kind of ‘obstacle’ than most young adult books. Usually, the main character has to deal with love, family, and friends. All three of these issues arise in The Flywheel, BUT Delilah has different pressures: she’s trying to survive high school even though she isn’t attending, because she’s trying to single-handedly save her father’s cafe. It adds another level to her story, because the stakes are higher and she has more to lose.
A few nitpicker things: Delilah’s parents seemed very unrealistic. Her dad leaves his daughter behind while he travels around for a few months. All he does is check in with an email every couple of weeks. Very unrealistic! And her mother isn’t much better. I know that there are some families out there that are like this, but Erin didn’t really paint this family dynamic as vividly as required for it to work. Also, at times, Delilah can be cruel. Although this can be attributed to her circumstances, she becomes a little unlikeable, and it takes some time for the reader to become reinvested in her character.
My Score: 6/10