Pink by Lili Wilkinson appears in several TBR lists scattered throughout the glorious world of the internet. This novel does have glowing critiques from David Leviathan and John Green, so my curiosity was bound to peak.
What do we do when we are curious? That’s right. We write chapter-by-chapter reviews as we read along the book that sparked our curiosity in the first place.
We are quickly introduced to our main female protagonist Ava and her girlfriend Chloe. Ava explains to Chloe that she is switching schools, but leaves out the actual reasons behind that particular decision. We are one page in this book and I am questioning Ava’s parents:
“‘The fascists,’ said Chloe, which was kind of hilarious given that my parents met at the Feminist-Socialist-Anarchist Collective at university.“
Because who doesn’t have parents who participated in the Feminist-Socialist-Anarchist Collective?
As Ava explains how Billy Hughes (the high school in case) focuses on standardized testing, rules, grades and all that jazz, Chloe does not even try to hide her disgust.
“‘They’ll break you, Ava!’ said Chloe. ‘It’ll be all rules and homework and standardized testing. No creative freedom. There’ll probably be cadets.'”
Rather supportive partner you got there, Ava. Speaking of Chloe, she happens to be your stereotypical ‘screw-the-rules-and-make-art’ type of character who only wears black, only reads second-hand novels about feminism, and smokes regularly. No, there’s no problem in wanting to build one’s life based on art and the philosophy of life, but Chloe seems to live on the extreme end of the spectrum. Ava, on the other hand, inwardly reveals how she almost begged her parents to allow her to switch to Billy Hughes, and was ecstatic once she got accepted. Her lack of openness about this topic with Chloe leads me to a couple of theories about their relationship: it may be dysfunctional.
Later on, Ava reminisces about how her parents embraced her sexuality with open arms–even going as far as throwing her a party. Pat and David (Ava refers to her parents under a first-name basis) absolutely adore Chloe, and take every opportunity they can to discuss feminism and vinyl records with her for hours on end, which Ava cannot quite relate with.
Hm. Something rather ironic: even though her parents practically threw confetti and champagne at Ava for coming out of her figurative closet, she does not feel comfortable telling them about something hiding in her literal closet. What is that something, you may ask? A pink sweater! Wait a second. A pink sweater?
“I never wore pink. Pink wasn’t cool. Pink wasn’t existential. Pink was for princesses and ballet shoes and glittery fairies. When I was five, I only wore pink. All my toys were pink. I only used pink pencils. I insisted on having my bedroom painted pink. As I’d grown older, Pat and David had worn me down. They explained to me that pink was an empty signifier of femininity and pointed out that none of the other little girls at my Waldorf school wore pink dresses under their art smocks.”
First off, fairies happen to be rather creepy in a lot of folk stories. Second, have you ever tried to dance through a ballet routine? Neither have I, but that is because I would look like a drunk moose on skates and I would fall flat on my face and break my very valuable pride if I ever attempted anything of the sort.
“Pink was for girls. Girly girls who wore flavored lip gloss and read magazines and talked on the phone lying on their perfect, lacy bedspreads with their feet in the air. Girls who spent six months looking for the perfect dress to wear to the school formal. Girls who liked boys.“
[removes face from palm] Ladies and gents, here’s my prediction: most of the conflict in this novel will be the direct result of Ava being raised by the sort of parents who try to make their child an extension of themselves and their (ironically) closed-off beliefs.
We finally learn about Ava and Chloe’s first encounter and their vastly unique and special relationship in a chapter that is five pages long. I may need several batches of popcorn to outlast this clearly lengthy section.
Chloe arrived at Ava’s school in their freshman year and was generally indifferent toward everything and everyone around her. Ava admired Chloe’s “grown-up” demeanor, as well as the latter’s scent of cigarettes and vanilla– a description that definitely does not remind me of any other character in YA fiction whatsoever– and eagerly proceeds to introduce herself during a science experiment.
Needless to say, the pair had chemistry (don’t look at me like that, the pun was inevitable).
Both girls became friends for about a month before Chloe finally confessed her feelings:
“‘I’m gay,’ she said all of a sudden. ‘I thought you should know.’
‘Oh.’ I felt hot and cold and shivery all at the same time. ‘Are you okay with that?’ she asked defiantly.
I nodded. ‘Of course.’
‘Good,’ said Chloe, and leaned forward and kissed me.”
By that point, Ava realizes she has a preference for girls when it comes to romantic involvements. The couple exchanged books, philosophical thoughts, poetry, alternative music, and French movies (Ava disliked these, but still saw them because they were important to Chloe). Ava continues to ponder about her relationship, and how happy she is with her girlfriend. This naturally leads her to wonder exactly why she wants to leave Chloe behind in order to attend a different school.
End of the second chapter.
So far I have an idea as to where the plot may be going. It seems to me that it will be similar to the liar-revealed story line; the chain of events that start when the main character tells a lie at the beginning, and that lie is later revealed in the worst possible way. I’m not sure as to what the lie will be, but I’m interested in finding out, and I hope you are as well.
YouTube Channel: Hailey In Bookland
Featured image via Goodreads