‘When best friends Dessi and Emma, are both attracted to the same man, it threatens to split their long term relationship.’
‘Dessi’s Romance’ explores some of the choices these young people make. As the story continues, all have the value of their friendships confirmed, and learn that their adventures in life and love will help them mature.
Dewey Number: A823.4
End of school is a crucial time for life -making decisions.Eighteen year old best friends Dessi Cowan, Lilbet’s grandniece, and her best friend Emma Simpson have planned a celebratory trip to the Gold Coast. Emma is an artist, Dessi a poet; their mothers long term ‘best friends’. In the past the girls have always been there for each other and this relationship is central to their lives. However, when Emma meets charming Adbul Malouf and Dessi is forced to stay in Melbourne to recover from a car accident, Emma asks her friend to look after Abdul while she is away.
On the Gold Coast Emma meets up with her father and participates in some of the Schoolies activities. Her closest male friend Sasha, convinced he might be ‘gay’, takes her to a ‘gay’ club and then realises he is really ‘straight’.
In Melbourne Dessi is totally infatuated with Abdul who takes her home twice. Though his parents are openly appalled at his taking up with a non-Moslem girl, for Dessi his ‘stop-start’ behaviour only makes him more desirable.
When Emma’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Emma cuts short her holiday only to be confronted by Dessi’s duplicity. As the story progresses both girls must spend a lot of time coming to terms with these events.
The title of Goldie Alexander’s new YA release could lead readers to expect a straight romance. Yet while Dessi’s first real experience of love is central to the theme of this novel, deeper issues of loyalty, trust and betrayal are integral to the plot. Cultural differences are also a key element.
Dessi and Emma are best friends like their mothers before them and can’t imagine anything or anyone ever coming between them. They’ve just graduated from high school and are looking forward to Schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast with a group of mates while waiting to find out if they’ve been accepted into their chosen university courses. When Dessi is injured in a traffic accident and must stay home to recuperate, Emma asks her new boyfriend and her best friend to look after each other while she’s away. What Emma couldn’t have foreseen was the instant attraction between Dessi and the older, darkly exotic Middle Eastern Abdul. Dessi’s romance threatens to destroy a friendship that promised to last a lifetime. To complicate matters, Abdul’s family is far from welcoming of his Australian girlfriend.
Alexander is an accomplished writer with an impressive list of publications to her name. It’s clear she understands the expectations of her YA audience and in Dessi’s Romance delivers it in style. Alternate chapters are written from Dessi and Emma’s viewpoints and effortlessly tap into their thinking. Alexander’s readers will have no difficulty empathising with Dessi’s dilemma – should she follow her heart or put friendship first?
Review by Teena Raffa-Mulligan
When best friends Dessi and Emma finish year 12 they have bold dreams of celebrating at Schoolies
Week together and sharing an unforgettable summer. But when a car accident lands Dessi with a broken ankle she is forced to stay behind in Melbourne while Emma goes to Surfers Paradise, and summer becomes unforgettable in ways they would never have dreamed possible.
What happens when Dessi falls in love with her best friend’s guy? Abdul is so exotic and charming, she finds him utterly irresistible. Should she follow her heart or ignore her burning feelings for him? To complicate matters further, Abdul’s family are less than impressed when he brings her home to meet them. How far should she take this new relationship? Or does she risk losing everything?
Meanwhile, in Surfers Paradise, Emma is grappling with her thoughts about meeting her Dad again and his new wife. And why is her good friend Sasha acting differently? Something important has changed about him. When her Mum is diagnosed with a serious illness Emma returns home and is faced with Dessi’s duplicity.
This novel delivers eloquently on many of the topical issues affecting young adults today. Themes of love and friendship, betrayal and deception, religion and acceptance, sexuality and identity interweave to create a compelling narrative. As Dessi and Emma come of age, they learn not only about themselves, but the wider world around them.
Review by Nina Lim
‘Dessi’s Romance’ is a compelling read, rich with humour and the ups and downs of teenage hood. The trials and tribulations that each character experiences is not only relatable but forms a gripping read.
Review by Mahli Benjamin-Robbins
Some important themes these novels share:
- Both are about relationships between close females that are 18 years of age.
- Both are concerned with the disruption an outsider brings to these women.
- Both emphasise rejection of different religions. ‘In Libet’s Romance’ it is being Jewish. In ‘Dessi’s Romance’ it is being a Moslem.
- Racism raises its ugly head in both books.
- Both novels are concerned with emerging sexuality. In ‘Lilbet’s Romance’ it is sexual ignorance and the inability of the disabled to live a full sexual life. ‘Dessi’s Romance’ also queries preserving virginity until the ‘right man comes along’, inappropriate passions, and Sasha affirming his true heterosexuality.