Review: Girls in Boys’ Cars

Award-winning Felicity Castagna, is the author of The Incredible Here and Now, which won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and the IBBY Honour Book for Australia. Her last book, No More Boats, was a finalist for the Miles Franklin and the Voss Award.

She is back with another impressive Young Adult novel, Girls in Boys’ Cars, an extraordinary exploration of friendship, freedom, the power of stories, and the demeaning divide between what is acceptable for boys, is unacceptable for girls.

The story starts from the middle working outward.

Rosa is in a juvenile correction centre for six months. Caught after stealing a car with her best friend Asheeka who is now missing, Rosa hopes to find her real self amongst the many parts she has buried inside her.

A passionate book lover and reader, but uncomfortable in her skin, her counsellor suggests Rosa write her own story as a way of connecting with who she really is. It is through the stories she writes, that we learn about how she came to be in juvie.

Asheeka is vibrant, outgoing and part of the popular crowd. She loves clothes, her nails, hair, her emotionally abusive boyfriend Arnold, and his stunning blue car. She strains against the cultural expectations that her mother imposes on her, also against Arnold’s selfishness and lack of respect.

Arnold has a dark side. After he physically attacks then ignores her, Asheeka steals his pride and joy as revenge, and with Rosa, they take off into the unknown.

They continue together through Australian towns and countryside in the greatest adventure of their lives; their own personal freedom, searching with each new beginning, to find an escape from what they can’t resolve.

With a unique turn of phrase, sharp wit and entertaining language, the reader is drawn into the girls’ company as they travel into and through exciting, unlawful and continuous flights of freedom; from darkness into light.

There is no escaping the law-breaking. To survive they must steal again and again. Each mile forward removes them from their insulated lives, to the world beyond that they had never experienced. Until the bushfires stop them. 

Then Asheeka goes missing again.

The ugliness of broken personal relationships, the changes needed to repair them and the revenge that destroys, builds the backstory that is a powerful force in this novel.

A fantastic read, with non-stop, fast- paced action reminiscent of Thelma and Louise, but much more.

Title: Girls in Boys’ Cars
Author: Felicity Castagna
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, $ 18.99
Publication Date: 1 August 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 97817760987688
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

August 6, 2021 at 12:30PM Anastasia Gonis