Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lili Wilkinson's Pink (Review, Interview, and Giveaway!)

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:

Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She's ready to try something new—she's even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don't work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Humor, heart, and the joys of drama—on- and offstage—combine in Ava's delight-fully colorful journey of self-discovery.


Engrossing and full of wit and spunk, Pink is sure to become a favorite among contemporary fans for it's honest look at a teen girl's life and the drama and relationships that ensue along with it.

Pink begins the day Ava tells Chloe, her best friend/girlfriend, that she will be leaving public school to attend the fancy, opulent Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence. Ava tells Chloe that her parents were the one who decided on this change, but the truth is, Ava's the one who wanted it- more than anything actually. You see, she's sick of wearing black, pretending that she doesn’t care, instead she does care. She wants fit in and excel at a “normal” teen girl's life. She wants to wear pink, lots of it. She wants to have a brilliant and adorable boyfriend, and most of all she wants to find her place in life. And at first, she does. She falls into the popular crowd and catches the eye of the hottest guy there, but what Chloe? Is Ava is really a lesbian, or is she straight, or is she just really confused? Better yet, why does she feel like she's missing out on something big with being part of the popular group rather than Billy Hughes' infamous misfits? Is being normal worth it? Or would Ava rather be unique and the opposite of normal? Only time and more pages will tell in this story of one girl's path to becoming who she wants and needs to be.

One of the things I loved most about Pink was the fact that Lili Wilkinson's characters felt so real to me. I loved how they didn't know who they were exactly or where they were going in life, because truth is most teens don't have it all figured out; I for one know I don't. Better yet, I loved how they call made mistakes at least once, because once again everyone makes mistakes, and it's much more fun to have a character, in my opinion, who makes mistakes (that are sometimes even funny) and learns from them, then one that is always perfect, because seriously what's the fun in that? The best example of this would be Pink's leading lady Ava. Ava was funny, honest, and full of compassion. I always enjoyed watching her path of discovery, as well as the great friendships she made along with it. More importantly, I feel many teen's will be able to relate to Ava's doubts about her sexuality in the book. Another favorite character of mine would have to be the whole stage crew group (also know as “The Screws”), because all were hilarious and full of heart, and without them Pink would not be the same at all.

Lili Wilkinson also did a great job of creating the plot in a way that it not only moved in a rapid and easy pace but felt fully fleshed out as well. Even better was that when it was mixed with Lili's writing and characters, it united as one, becoming something funny, relatable, and just all around fabulous.

In all, Lili Wilkinson has quite the US debut with Pink, one that I'm sure will leave readers for begging for more of Lili's contemporary debuts filled with lots of heart and fun!

Grade: A-

Pink is now out!


Lili Wilkinson is the Australia based author of several books for young adults, including the newly US released Pink. Today, she's here on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf to answer a few questions about Pink, writing, and more...


In your opinion, what are the top three reasons why teens (or even adults) should consider picking up Pink the next time they see it in stores or online?

1. It's entertaining and funny (so I have been told), but not insubstantial.
2. You will learn more about the colour pink than you ever thought was possible to know.
3. It's great to see an increasing number of books on the shelves about young people and sexuality. But I did (and do) feel that there's still not enough - and in particular not enough books for the young people who just aren't sure. Pink is for them (and everyone else who would like to read it, of course).

Pink is told from the viewpoint of Ava, so would you mind telling us a little about her? Also, if you could offer her any advice, what would you say?

Ava is a little bit of me, and a little bit of a whole bunch of different people I know who have told me about their high school identity crises, and a little bit of herself. I love to read books about smart, funny, interesting but flawed girls, and I hope that's what Ava ended up being. If I could offer her advice, I'd tell her "it's okay if you're not sure about who you are yet. You don't ever have to decide, but you REALLY don't have to decide when you're sixteen."

Some parts of Pink take place at Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, so what made you decide to have that to be part of the setting?

Billy Hughes is sort of based on my own high school - which was a selective entrance school full of very smart young people. The characters in Screw are based on my real friends in stage crew, and there are lots of other things that were inspired by real life (including Dennis, both the person and the train station). I also liked the idea of having smart kids who were also the cool kids - I think the cliche of the dumb jocks vs the clever nerds needs a bit of renovating.

As another bit of trivia, Billy Hughes is the name of an ex Prime Minister of Australia who I picked at random, because the name sounded right. He was around before my time so I knew nothing about him. My Australian publisher released some teacher's notes on Pink, and one of the suggested discussion questions was, "Why do you think the author named the school after Billy Hughes?". I, the author, knew that the REAL answer to this question was "because I liked the name", but I googled Billy Hughes to learn more. It turns out I couldn't have picked a better person. Just like Ava, Billy Hughes wasn't too sure where he belonged - he changed political parties five times, was expelled from three and represented four different electorates in two states. He's described as one of the most colourful figures in Australia's political history. I reckon he had some pink socks in his wardrobe.

Now Out!
What was the hardest part of writing Pink?

I'm trying to think of something pithy and appropriate to say, but to be honest there were no particular stumbling points - it was a joy to write. Of course there are always the moments where you are so sick of it you never want to see it again, and the painstaking process of copyedits and proofreading, but on the whole it was all good.

I absolutely love the US cover of Pink, so what was your reaction to it when you saw it for the very first time?

Surprise, probably, because it's so different to the Australian cover. But then happiness because a) it doesn't have a headless girl on it like so many YA books do, and b) because I knew it'd REALLY stand out next to all those black and red vampire books.

I saw on your website that your website that you work part-time at a library in Australia, which leaves me to wonder the following: Does anything you observe or see at the library inspire your novels in any ways?

Absolutely. My next book is set in the taxidermy department of a natural history museum, and the building is sort of a hybrid between the library I work in (which is very big and old) and the Melbourne Museum, which is fancy and new. And I'm always meeting strange and fascinating people who often work their way into my stories. Having said that, by the time this interview is published, I will no longer work part time in a library, as I'm leaving to start my PhD and do lots more writing.

What's up next for you book wise? Is there anything else you would like to add?

The museum book is called A Pocketful of Eyes, and it's a murder mystery/rom-com (or rom-crime, as my publisher calls it). It'll be out in Australia in May, but not sure about the US. My PhD (since you asked) is about teenagers, YA literature and politics, and will be half novel, half thesis. Thanks for having me!


Thanks so much Lili!

Other Links:

Buy Pink (Amazon/Barnes and Noble/IndieBound)
Find out more Lili and her books (Twitter/Website/Blog)

Now, for the part you've all been waiting for the giveaway!

Thanks to the lovely people at HarperTeen I have ONE (ARC) copy of Pink to giveaway!

Here are the rules:

~ Must be 13 years or older to enter.
~ Fill out the following form to be entered.
~ Open to US only.
~ This giveaway ends on February 16, 2011!


  1. I didn't always used to like pink, but it has grown on me recently. This books sounds great. It's good to know you enjoyed the characters.

  2. great interview. I'm glad the book was such a joy to write!

  3. I'm really glad that we're getting Aussie authors out in the US

    Sniffly Kitty
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    Loving the Reviews Challenge

  4. this sounds really good, I also really like the cover!!!!

  5. This book looks promising! I am excited to read it.

  6. Great interview. The book sounds interesting. Looking forward to it.

  7. This is the 2nd time I've spotted PINK - and I really want to add it to my TBR pile!

    Awesome interview - really interesting tidbit about Billy Hughes (funny how things work out like that!).

  8. I have this in my TBR and am eager to get started on it. Great review!

  9. Great review! I cant wait to read this one

  10. Sounds fabulous! I'm really excited for this book! :D

  11. Sounds really good, I've heard a lot about this book. Great Post too!

  12. I'm so glad you liked it! I've read some mixed opinions, but I really want to enjoy this one.

  13. I like how she came up with the school, Billy Hughes. I've been seeing some pretty good reviews for Pink, so I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  14. I so agree about loving the cover, and how it totally stands out from so many YA's out there right now. Looking forward to this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. I like this cover too and when I found out it was a debut author, I got excited!

  16. This sounds interesting.


  17. I have added Pink to my must be bought list. It sounds really interesting. Great interview and review.

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