Written by Erin Gough
Contemporary, LGBT, #LoveOzYA
Published February 1st 2015
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont
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Seventeen year old Delilah drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Delilah makes it her mission to save her dad's crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he finds himself overseas.
Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Delilah sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl on girl romance ever have a happy ending?
This hilarious and accident prone novel is about how to be heartbroken and how to fall in love, about rising above high school drama and wrestling with problems that are, almost too big. It speaks directly to teens and assures them that they're not alone, and does it all with an abundance of heart.
While her father is on a reluctant journey of self discovery after his divorce, seventeen year old Delilah never imagined she would be managing the Flywheel, the small independent coffee house her father owns. Ostracised by her peers, Delilah is tormented for her sexuality and a secret relationship with callous Georgina, in which the teaching faculty believe she had coerced the popular student.
When the manager of the Flywheel is deported and her staff members pilfering dwindling profits, Deliah has no other option but to devote her time to the conservation of the small business with the assistance of best friend Charlie. Reluctant to love again, Delilah's infatuation with flamenco dancer Rosa and Charlie's chaotic romance, Delilah will be forced to contend with Crunch, a large business trying to force the Flywheel into insolvency.
Delilah finds herself in a precarious position, running her father's small business while he's on an extended journey of self discovery and walking away from her education to ensure the coffee house survives against the push of big business. I absolutely adored Delilah. She's a resilient young woman who although self aware, still feels adolescent fragility as she navigates friendships, relationships and responsibility. She continues to endure homophobia, targeted accusations by her peers. Delilah is a lesbian and after a physical relationship with a fellow student, subjected to taunts that the education facility ignore.
Charlie is adventurous, boisterous and a charming young man with an appreciation of the fairer sex, seemingly infatuated with the thrill of the chase. Charlie was of an immense support to Delilah, thriving as The Flywheel's new in house chef, praised by patrons and creating a new environment by uplifting revenue for the flailing business. Charlie was hilarious, his jovial nature providing banter between he and Delilah and laugh out loud moments.
Although Delilah's parents are noticeably absent for almost the entire narration, Delilah speaks of an incredible fondness for her father and the support and unconditional love he provides, her reasoning behind wanting to save The Flywheel from bankruptcy rather than ask her father to return home. Delilah's relationship with her mother felt incredibly strained, having separated and moved to Melbourne with her younger, questionable lover. Insisting Delilah refer to her by her first name rather than mother, wanting to recapture her youth.
The romance between Delilah and Rosa was often turbulent but the epitome of teen relationships and their complexities. After her experience with Georgia, Delilah isn't interested in another covert relationship which poses an issue with Rosa's conservative family, unaware of her sexuality. It was a great exploration of the stages of sexual preferences and tolerances for experiences that are not your own.
The Flywheel is why I read Australian young adult fiction, wonderfully diverse narratives that represent our communities. Debut author Erin Gough is remarkable.