22 July 2011
This Kindle title popped up randomly, and on a whim I bought it. I wasn't disappointed, far from it.
Goalden Girl is a refreshing no frills offering from writer Tracy Morait. It is written in the first person (which is hard to do well - this is done very well), and is about a teenage girl - Gemma Sutherland. Gemma has no affected airs and graces, tells it like it is, yet she has cock-eyed dignity and integrity because of these traits rather than despite. Oh, and she is, although not quite a Tom Boy - football mad.
Although football (footy / soccer) is the anchor of this tale, it is not THE tale if you know what I mean; anything with even a touch of grit is always really about life itself: families, friends, enemies, family who are enemies, and friends who become enemies and vice versa and all changeable points in-between for all these aspects. But, Gemma is a highly skilled footy player who shines at the sport at one school, but then gets shunted to another, and, you've guessed it, they not only do not have girls' football at the new school because of supposed lack of demand, it is not allowed / actively frowned upon - at first.
Ok, how to provide worthwhile feedback without introducing spoilers to any degree : let's just say that footy, school friends and enemies and family tensions all intertwine. Tracy Morait handles these tie ups very well indeed with a direct, pacy delivery and a believable plot. It's realistic without straying into profane dialogue (the real / core readership here is young teens and so Tracy has correctly and sensibly held back) but nor is it Enidesque, so no golly gosh in sight, no lashings of ginger beer to be consumed, and the central character goes to the Bog not the bathroom.
Gemma is also mature, wise, and sensible and brave when she really has to be, belying her at least occasional semi-gothy outlook, and we see her act and benefit from this in one or two dangerous situations for others.
The story's sort-of-denouement as it were, and am sure we all gladly allow the writer this shift to farce, acts for me like a nod to the endings of the old Saint Trinian's films: flour and egg bombs and if there weren't any cries of 'Come on, girls!' there should have been!
I read this book in around 4 sittings, with only coffee breaks in between, so, without knowing the official category, it seems like a novella, certainly more than a short story, and it works well in this read-in-a-day format. As already said, I think, at least, that the target audience is teens, but it is interesting and fun for all ages, I can vouch for that, I'm 52 and enjoyed it tremendously. So much so, I hope we see more of footy-mad Gemma Sutherland. (Maybe there is more; am I off to check? You bet!)
Well done, Tracy Morait.