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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Title: Black Painted Fingernails
Author: Steven Herrick

Release Date: 1st June 2011

My Rating: 5/5

'How about we toss a coin? Heads, it's west and a lift. Tails, it's still west, but no lift.'

James is heading into the country on his first teacher-training round when a mysterious girl asks him for a ride. Sophie has him all worked out: 'You live with your parents and they bought you this car, and a very nice car it is too...' At first James can't see past her wild hair and attitude, but then Sophie trusts him with a secret she's been keeping too long.

My Review:
This is a story about a boy searching for freedom, and a girl returning from hers. I love Aussie fiction, road-trips, new friendships, awkward male leads and confident females, so this was already a book for me before I even opened the first page.

It is a story that heavily highlights the pressure parents can put on their children rather than letting them choose the path they would like to take themselves which I think is a common issue for teenagers, and parents, alike. There were times I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, at Sophie's self confidence, spunk and boldness and at James's embarrassment at being in an unfamiliar situation. I was also brought to tears at one point when Sophie returns home. It's times like these that I wish I was more eloquent so I could really describe what I want to; I'm just really in love with this book!

James is one of those awkward teens who doesn't have any luck with girls and plays life very safe. Whether this is due to his mother's over-protectiveness, his lack of confidence or both, it means that when Sophie appears in his life, she is sure to turn things upside down. Sophie is a free spirit who left home to get away from the pain of loving people who leave, and the mindset of the small town she lived in. She is the total opposite of James, and just what he needs to help him discover what he wants in life. And James might just be the kind of person Sophie needs to face her family again.

Black Painted Fingernails is told in alternating chapters. James's chapters tell the story as it is happening in present time, with an occasional look back at the past. Sophie's chapters look at her life and how she ended up sitting in the car next to James, heading home for the first time in three years. I believe it is done this way because the problems that James faces are current whereas Sophie's issues all stem from her childhood. Both James and Sophie are attempting to face their problems but without their chance meeting, it may not have gone so smoothly. There are also chapters by James's dad and his mother. They each have a couple of chapters set in present time which help the reader to understand the environment that James has come from but also shows teens the difficulty some parents have when their 'nest' is suddenly empty.

Black Painted Fingernails reminds me of Swerve by Philip Gwynne and Wavelength by AJ Betts. All three books look at males in their late teens struggling with where to go in their lives and what will come next. In each case, a girl helps show them the way.

This was my first Steven Herrick novel. He usually writes verse novels which are not something I am a fan of, so when I discovered that his new book was going to be prose, and a 'road trip' style book, I was ecstatic. I have read so many great reviews of his previous books and listened to Nomes and Nic go on about how wonderful Herrick is that I knew I would have to try him eventually. I was in no way disappointed with what I found and might just have to give in and try one of his verse novels.


  1. Sounds brilliant. I just read Brown Skin Blue which was brilliant and has left me hungry for more aussie tales about older aussie yas. Just added this to my list :-)

  2. I had no idea this book was about a road trip! That's doubled my interest o.o Anyways, great review!

  3. This does sound like a fabulous read!

  4. Great review. I am not so much into the road trip novel but it does sound like it conveys teenage emotions and experiences really well.

  5. awesome review jess. i really cannot wait to read this one. i am thinking you would like his other books too (even though you're not a fan of verse).

    i didnt realise it would have alternating chapters so am really looking forward to that.

    also ~ i LOVE the cover :D

  6. Wow, awesome title!:D
    I like the concept of this book, that the girl isn't what this society calls "perfect". She's different, maybe even a little weird(:



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