The main character in Yellow is fourteen year old Kirra, whose friends bully her, whose mum is an alcoholic, and whose father has run off with another woman one street over. And Kirra has started communicating with a ghost called Boogie through a broken telephone box.
Yellow is set in the mid 90s and is a beautifully written young adult novel not so much like a coming of age story, but more like a coming of self story. Kirra doesn’t realise how horrible her friends are and she doesn’t know what to do about her alcoholic mother. She’s going through an early life crisis, and it seems that this ghost she’s started talking to could help with her problems. Boogie’s promised to help her with her life if she helps prove who murdered him twenty years earlier.
As Kirra slowly starts to understand who she is and what she is capable of, she’s thrust into the uncertainty of high school and teenage life. She befriends a girl in her school who she’d never thought to even acknowledge, and she starts to rekindle a friendship with a boy in her neighbourhood. The small coastal town that this book is set in uses the beach as a backdrop to highlight just how small Kirra’s world is and the unlikelihood of her — or anyone else in her life — escaping this small town and making something of themselves outside of it.
Megan uses unreliable characters to make the reader question the plot and question Kirra’s actions, because we start to doubt what is real and what isn’t. The relationships and friendships at Kirra’s school mirror modern society and the social dynamic between everyone in the town resembles that of real-life small towns: everyone knows everyone and everybody’s business is talked about. And if you’re trouble, or if you’re bad news, you’re ignored by everyone in the town and merely cast aside as being hopeless and not worthy of their time. It is merely understood that you will go nowhere. And it seems that Kirra has grown up surrounded by people who have gone nowhere and achieved nothing, so she’s not aware of what she’s capable of. And Megan uses the character Boogie to catapult Kirra into realisation and personal growth.
Despite the fact that the pace of the story is a little fast and there is a bit of telling where there could be showing, Megan has crafted a lovely young adult story whilst weaving in pieces of a supernatural sub-plot, and Megan juggles these two elements of the story perfectly.
My Score: 8/10