BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Out of This Place by Emma Cameron

Out of This PlaceOooh, am I sucker for novels in verse, even though I’m embarrassingly inept with poetry. Who knows why … my limited brain can only take so much.

Australian author Emma Cameron‘s first novel hit native shelves as Cinnamon Rain, and arrives Stateside as Out of This Place. Meet Luke, Casey, and Bongo, three teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. The one major characteristic they share? Each is hoping, praying, working toward escape, to get ‘out of this place’ into new lives …

Luke, with a year left to go in high school, has eyes only for Casey, who caught his devotion “with a grin / that reached across the room / the day she joined our class.” “‘She’s new,'” the teacher explained, “‘Please look after her.'” For eight years, that’s exactly what he’s done, “As much as [he] can. / As much as she lets [him].” While he’s waiting to be noticed, while waiting to leave, Luke works at the local supermarket, building his bank balance. He hopes a scholarship “with this place in the city” might get him out sooner than later, but for now, all he can do is wait.

Casey has run out of patience; living under her parents’ tense roof and obeying her father’s stifling rules is no longer bearable. Her parents’ lives are circumscribed by their teenage decision to settle for being a family when Casey arrived unplanned. Their regret finally pushes Casey out the door, and discover who she might be on her own.

Bongo, who is also David, is finished with being abandoned by his addict mother, and bruised and abused by his brutal stepfather. When all hope is lost of ever reuniting with his younger brother, Bongo first hits the city streets, then takes to the high seas. Somewhere in between, he finds his balance, and perhaps even enough acceptance to live his own life.

Told in three distinct voices filled with longing, confusion, delight, and discovery, Place both mourns and celebrates the losses and gains of growing up enough to claim independence. Cameron writes with a direct simplicity and unguarded honesty, each page both confession and revelation. “‘Strange, isn’t it?'” Luke questions at book’s end, “Where life takes you and / how much can change.'” For these three young friends bound together by their entwined past, their journey ‘out of this place’ and beyond promises dovetailing futures with “[s]o much / to look forward to.”

Readers: Young Adult

Published: 2012 (Australia), 2013 (United States)


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