If you’ve ever struggled with the question, then Pink by Lili Wilkinson will take you to very familiar territory. A new school, with classes way over her head and being torn from her girlfriend, those are teen nightmares, but the twist here is that Ava asks for all of this. She wants change and what better place to reinvent yourself than a progressive private school?
The cover art alone drew me in. Pretty shallow I know. With half black lipstick and half pink, I knew a war of sorts could be found inside: anti-establishment vs. conformity. What shocked and thrilled me was the role reversal. Here was a girl pressured by her parents and friends to stay on the fringe and never conform while deep inside she yearns to experiment and learn how the ultra ‘normal’ half lives.
So naturally, she runs with the Pastels, the ultra preppy, have it all kind of kids. After a disastrous audition for the school musical, she finds the overlooked group of screws when she signs up for the stage crew. Alex attempts to keep three personas going, one for her family and old friends, another with the Pastels and a third with the screws.
It would’ve been so easy for the author to wrap up the book with Ava magically deciding who and what she wants in life. Ava’s barely getting to the point of deciding what she doesn’t like for herself versus what others think. To quote her friend Sam, “Good.Life’s supposed to be messy.”