January 8, 2019 | in

As Seen On Screen


The Hate U Give

If you ever need an example of why YA is for everyone, this is the perfect title. While the plot, characters and writing style are engaging and easy to follow, The Hate U Give deals with complex themes of race, class, identity and navigating different worlds. The world of the novel is completely grounded in reality as well as highly topical.

Starr is 16 years old and trying to figure out who she is as she moves between her underprivileged – and pretty rough – neighbourhood and her mostly white, well-to-do school. She finds herself struggling under the pressure as she constructs different personas for each situation, wanting to avoid being stereotyped as one of few black students at her school and stay out of trouble at home.

When she witnesses her friend being shot and killed by a policeman, Starr is forced to confront a range of issues that shape her life and the lives of the people she cares about.

Starr’s narration not only speaks to the universal and highly relatable teenage experience, but also provides a window of empathy into the injustices and indignities that are inherent to living in America as a person of colour. A range of characters from Starr’s family and friends to local gangs and social activists allow a variety of conversations to be explored through realistic situations.

For young adults, for anyone who has ever felt marginalised or caught between worlds, and for readers who want to experience the world from another point of view, this is definitely one not to be missed.

With the Australian release of the film adaptation around the corner, and author Angie Thomas’s upcoming On the Come Up set for May 2019, now is the ideal time to pick up this thoughtful, engaging and utterly stunning debut YA novel.

Rebecca Sutherland, WHSmith Australia

20th Century Fox

Beautiful Boy

Nic Sheff was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honour student adored by his two younger siblings. After he became addicted to crystal meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets.

With haunting candour, his father David Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs: the denial, the 3am phone calls, the attempts at rehab. His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself, and the obsessive worry and stress took a tremendous toll.

But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every avenue of treatment that might save his son. This story is a first: a teenager’s addiction from the parent’s point of view – a real-time chronicle of the shocking descent into substance abuse and the gradual emergence into hope.

Praised by Anne Lamott as a ‘book [that] will save a lot of lives and heal a lot of hearts’, and by Richard Branson as ‘moving, timely and startingly beautiful’, David Sheff’s candid memoir details the emotional rollercoaster of loving a child who seems beyond help. Now a major motion picture starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet.

Amazon Studios

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Before turning to her life of crime—running a one-woman forgery business out of a phone booth in a Greenwich Village bar and even dodging the FBI—Lee Israel had a legitimate career as an author of biographies. Her first book on Tallulah Bankhead was a New York Times bestseller, and her second, on the late journalist and reporter Dorothy Kilgallen, made a splash in the headlines.

But by 1990, almost broke and desperate to hang onto her Upper West Side studio, Lee made a bold and irreversible career change: inspired by a letter she’d received once from Katharine Hepburn, and armed with her considerable skills as a researcher and celebrity biographer, she began to forge letters in the voices of literary greats. Between 1990 and 1991, she wrote more than three hundred letters in the voices of, among others, Dorothy Parker, Louise Brooks, Edna Ferber, Lillian Hellman, and Noel Coward—and sold the forgeries to memorabilia and autograph dealers.

Heralded by The Associated Press as a ‘gentle parable about the modern culture of fame, about those who worship it, those who strive for it, and those who trade in its relics’, and by The New York Times as ‘slender, sordid, and pretty damned fabulous book about her misadventures’, Lee Israel’s hilarious and shocking memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a must-read. Now a major motion picture starring Melissa McCarthy.

Fox Searchlight 

First Man

Based on over 50 hours of interviews with the intensely private Neil Armstrong, who also gave author James R. Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the moon became a legend. Hansen vividly recreates Armstrong’s career in flying, from his seventy-eight combat missions as a naval aviator flying over North Korea to his formative transatmospheric flights in the rocket-powered X-15 to his piloting Gemini VIII to the first-ever docking in space. For a pilot who cared more about flying to the Moon than he did about walking on it, Hansen asserts, Armstrong’s storied vocation exacted a dear personal toll, paid in kind by his wife and children. In the years since the Moon landing, rumours swirled around Armstrong concerning his dreams of space travel, his religious beliefs, and his private life.

This book reveals the man behind the myth. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and as an individual. In First Man, the personal, technological, epic, and iconic blend to form the portrait of a great but reluctant hero who will forever be known as history’s most famous space traveller. Now a major film starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Kyle Chandler.

Universal Pictures 


Texas teen Willowdean Dickson has always been at home in her own skin, but when life throws her a curveball, Willow suffers an unwelcome attack of self-doubt. So what’s a girl to do? Enter a local Miss Teen Bonnet beauty pageant; of course! Now a major film starring Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston and Odeya Rush, with music by Dolly Parton.


Ladies in Black

At the very end of the Ladies’ Frocks Departments, past Cocktail Frocks, there was something very special, something quite wonderful; a lovely arch, on which was written in curly letters Model Gowns.

Written by a superb novelist of contemporary manners, Ladies in Black is a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. The women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow. But it’s Sydney in the 1950s, and there’s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme.

By the time the last marked-down frock has been sold, most of the staff of the Ladies’ Cocktail section at F. G. Goode’s have been launched into slightly different careers. With the lightest touch and the most tender of comic instincts, Madeleine St John conjures a vanished summer of innocence. Ladies in Black is a great novel, a lost Australian classic. Now a major film starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Shane Jacobson, Susie Porter, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez.

Sony Pictures Releasing Australia

Boy Erased

The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.

When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalised Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds. Deemed ‘a necessary, beautiful book’ by Garth Greenwall, author of What Belongs To You and praised by The Guardian as a ‘brilliant memoir’, Boy Erased is a stunning novel, and now a major motion picture written and directed by Joel Edgerton and starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.

Focus Features 

Mary Queen of Scots

Who was the real Mary Queen of Scots? The most enigmatic ruler of England lived a life of incredible drama and turmoil: crowned Queen of Scotland at nine months old, and Queen of France at sixteen years, she grew up in the crosshairs of Europe’s political battles to become Queen Elizabeth’s arch rival.

This book tells the story of the fraught and dangerous relationship between these two women of incredible charisma and power – a relationship that began with both seeking a political settlement, but which led them down a path of danger, from which only one could emerge victorious. Written by one of the leading historians of this period, Mary Queen of Scotsis now a film starring Margot Robbie and Saiorse Ronan.

Focus Features

A Simple Favour

When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school she agrees happily.

Their children are classmates and best friends. And five-year-olds love being together – just like she and Emily. As a widow and stay-at-home blogger mum living in suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a glamorous and successful PR executive.

The trouble is that Emily doesn’t come back. No matter what the police say, Stephanie knows that she would never leave her son. Terrified, she reaches out to her fellow mummy bloggers.

And she also reaches out to Emily’s husband – just to offer her support.

What Stephanie hasn’t shared are the secrets buried in a murky past.

Now a major film starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively as a pair of mismatched best friends, each with something to hide, A Simple Favour is a gripping tale for fans of Big Little Lies and Gone Girl.

Roadshow Films

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