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Book Review: A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is much to admire about this book and its author. The momentum and concept of the book is unique – the story flows but there isn’t any particular part of the plot that is climatic. Jena’s voice demonstrates a vague awareness of her self destructive life with only the slightest of a hint of growth towards the end of the novel. The story is littered with generous serves of sex scenes, some of them rather violent. Yet instead of being continually shocked by the graphic description, I became desensitised quickly. Jena is difficult to like and there is a near complete absence of any feel good factor. This lack of adherence to a conventional pattern is impressively bold for a debut novel.

Jena Lin is the offspring of Taiwanese migrants to Australia. A former child prodigy, Jena reflects often about her past life as a world famous violinist as she mindlessly stumbles forward in life. Like many children of migrants in Australia, she feels little loyalty to her birth country.

“It is strange to have a white man tell me to dress in a cultural uniform, put myself in a box, a box he’s created for people who look like me, this face, this skin colour and all that it means.”

“‘Great accent,’ she says.
I’m not sure whether she means I have a good Australian accent, or that I have good English for someone with my face.”

Admittedly, in these months of social isolation, I survived by reading predominantly easy to read, light hearted novels. I was deceived by the title expecting a forgettable book about a girl with a sad, lonesome life who goes on to find salvation through some twist of fate. Instead, I was highly entertained by this haunting, somewhat outlandish story that is now seared permanently into my memory. Tu writes with exceptional courage. I look forward to her next piece.



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