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?