Written by Sarah Ayoub
Contemporary, Coming of Age
Published March 1st 2016
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
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Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.The school captain. Ryan has it all... Or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?The newcomer. Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends…The loner. At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.The popular girl. Well, the popular girl’s best friend… Cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?The politician’s daughter. Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?
New girl Charlie can't wait for the school year to end to move back to Melbourne. She doesn't belong in Sydney and certainly doesn't belong at Holy Family High School. Her single mother fell in love with a wonderful man and to keep their newly blended family together, Charlie now finds herself stuck in Sydney until she leaves for university.
Hood wearing Matty seems like a recluse, spending his school day hidden from the world while trying to make ends meet. On a scholarship at the prestigious school, Matty struggles to find a balance between school and taking on the role of provider for his mother, a woman who is as lost as he feels himself.
Both Tammi and Ryan seemingly have it all. They're the beautiful people of Holy Family, their friendship circle known for their popularity and bullying of others. But Tammi's doting boyfriend David is tired of waiting for the young couple to take the next step in their relationship, pressuring her to have sex while Ryan is nursing a career ending injury and unable to play his beloved soccer again.
But it's the ambitious and dependable politicians daughter Gillian who will bring the motley group of teens together, as they are all sentenced to work on the Holy Family yearbook. While tentative friendships between the unlikely group begin to form, worlds will collide making their final year memorable, perhaps for all the wrong reasons.
Labeled as The Breakfast Club for the new generation, The Yearbook Committee was wonderfully written, engaging and most importantly, relevant.
The Newcomer. Charlie may seem as though she has a chip on her shoulder, but since moving to Sydney from Melbourne, she feels as though she doesn't belong. Her mother is pining for a new baby, while Charlie can't wait to finish the year at Holy Family and return home. She's determined not to form any sense of companionship with her peers, her goal of making a clean break to university at the end of the year within her grasp. I loved Charlie's couldn't care less attitude, being a teen is confusing enough without having your life moved interstate during your final year of school. She's an intelligent girl who isn't afraid to stand up for others and what she believes in.
The School Captain. Ryan had it all. Popularity, friends and the envy of his team mates until his accident that ends his promising soccer career. Without leading his team to victory, Ryan feels lost and in need of direction. Ryan seemed to wallow in his own pity, he was agonising over his injury long after his team mates had moved on and achieved success without him. His character begins as a narcissistic teen but through his interactions with his fellow yearbook committee members, he begins to see that he is more than a failed sportsman.
Matty's storyline was by far the most touching and emotional. He is seen as a loner, hiding behind is hood and shutting off the world around him with his music. But at home Matty is the breadwinner. He works to keep food on the table and the bills at bay, while his mother's depression slowly eats away at her, unable to seek treatment for an illness she refuses to recongnise.
The popular girl
Tammi isn't popular, but popular by association. Her supposed best friend being bully Lauren, a girl with a mean streak that isn't above belittling others simply for her own amusement. Tammi's boyfriend is now captain of the soccer team, taking the title from Ryan after his accident. But it's the expectations he places upon Tammi to take the next step in their relationship, pressuring her to have sex even though she's been transparent with her own expectations of needing a commitment before she's ready. With her father as a strict officer of the law, Tammi is forced to moonlight as a children's clown at parties, wanting to feel the independence of making her own money without her parents discovering her extra curricular activities.
I could tolerate Tammi, but was desperately wishing the meek and easily swayed girl would have spoken out against the blatant bullying. Her character was able to defy her parents, but not speak out against her peers. She was incredibly frustrating but yet an example of peer pressure that teens face to feel included and popular. Throughout most of our lives, we've all felt like a Tammi at one point or another, too intimidated to speak out against someone for the fear of being labelled as an outcast.
The good girl
On the surface, Gillian has her life together. She may not be popular or confident and is afraid to speak up against her bully, but she's an intelligent girl who understands the importance of her education. Gillian's father is a predominant politician, always under the spotlight and expects his family to be the model of perfection at all times. Gillian's mother isn't your average housewife, she herself is the vision of perfection and often comments on Gillian's weight, pressuring the teen and projecting her own dieting goals on her confidence lacking daughter. But Gillian is the only student on the committee of her own free will and will bring the group together to not only create a lasting memory of their final year but of the fleeting time they have with one another.
The Final Verdict
At the very core of The Yearbook Committee is a group of teens fumbling their way through their final year of school. They're humanly flawed and represent an understanding of the person behind the stereotype and labels we place upon one another. Even as an adult, we still relate to the same insecurities and pressure, making The Yearbook Committee an incredibly poignant and immersive read.
Sarah Ayoub is an author who can reach teens through a shared love of words, making them feel as though they are more than the labels and stereotypes that are placed upon them, but should not define them. Be prepared to fall in love, fall apart and you'll adore each and every moment.