Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 1st May 2012
My rating: 4.5 stars


Holly Yarkov has a boyfriend who is a gift from the universe. She has a job that fulfils her even as it wears her down. She has a core group of friends from high school. And she has a layer of steel around her heart that is beginning to tarnish. Just as she is reaching for a future she can't quite see, Holly is borne back into the past by memories of her beloved father, and of the boy-who-might-have-been...

Grief and longing run like veins of quicksilver through this beautiful novel, at once gloriously funny and achingly sad.

Laura's confident, astute and witty voice has already been recognised with the success of Good Oil, with North American English rights sold to Knopf and German language rights sold to Arena. It was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister's
Literary Awards. Her second novel is extraordinary and bittersweet – and shows us exactly what it is like to be a young person today – navigating the complexities of work, love, family and how to pay the rent.

There is definitely something across the water in Australia, last year when I first discovered my love for Aussie authors, I felt like a little kid at Christmas getting my hands on an Aussie book. With Aussie books by greats such as Marchetta and Eagar so hard to come by, I’d save my pennies so that I could splurge on some beautiful Aussie books. I’m pleased to say my pennies were definitely worth it with Buzo’s latest gem Holier Than Thou.

Buzo manages to create such a realistic portrayal in the life of Holly. I felt as if I was right there following her through in her life full of heartache, beautiful friendships, what could have beens, frighteningly looking around the corner of what could be lingering and what could be left behind. Holly was such an incredible character that I could connect with, having experienced a similar situation of leaving university and going our separate ways, not knowing who we would be keeping in touch with and walking by ourselves into the big scary world of work. I too was like Holly always trying to re-connect with my friends, arranging meet ups and not wanting them to slip away between my fingers. So this honest depiction that Buzo created of Holly’s life was so heartfelt to watch. I was enthralled in seeing which way it would unravel.

Holly’s voice was so honest and raw, and just got under my skin. I didn’t want to part from her life, I’d become so tangled in it. I thoroughly wanted her to get the ending she truly deserved. I was put through a whirl wind of emotions, as I wished she would finally be able to re-connect the rest of the gang together and have her chance with the guy who slipped through her fingers. But the unexpected road blocks in the road I didn’t see coming. I didn’t see the tangled romance developing and I think this was because I didn’t want the story to move into that direction, don’t get me wrong he was such a nice guy, but I thought Holly’s relationship with Tim even though far from perfect I didn’t want to come to an end. I thought the book would go a certain way and hoped some things would be resolved, but the last couple of chapters and that ending! Haaaahh! completely threw me. It definitely left me wanting a lot more!

Overall I absolutely loved Holier Than Thou; it was a bittersweet and nostalgic read and just goes to show we need more of these Aussie greats being published over here!

Thank you to Keertana for reading this with me. You can read her wonderful review here.

26 comments:

  1. I have got to embrace my Aussieness (lol) soon! I haven't read any of Marchetta, Eagar nor Buzo's books :/ I so must rectify that VERY SOON!! I can't wait to start on Buzo's debut and this one :) Both sound exactly like my type of book :) Glad you enjoyed it so much Jasprit!

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  2. I agree with Shirley, I seriously haven't read an Aussi books or heard of ones either, which is sad. This book sounds perfect to read. I love how characters can get under your skin as well. It almost makes them seem more realistic with the rawness and honesty you feel for Holly! Lovely Review, Jasprit!

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  3. I agree with you - there is definitively something there in Australia. I don't recall any bad Aussi author. This author is new for me and now I see that I'm missing a lot. I love it when author creates realistic world for MC! I'll hopefully get some time to read this one. Great review Jasprit! ;)

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  4. Wonderful review,Jasprit.

    You can never go wrong with Aussie author. I discovered them two years ago when I read Jellicoe Road and it blew my mind.

    I wasn't the biggest fan of Good Oil. I liked it but I didn't love it. This one sounds so good. I'll read it for sure.

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  5. This sounds like quite an emotional rollercoaster of a read. And the guy slipping through her fingers sounds so sad. I don't think I've read any Aussie authors but I think this sounds like a good place to start. Lovely review Jaspirit

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  6. Amazing review, Jasprit! I'm so glad we read this one together as it was such an emotional read, full of discussions and thought-provoking insights into Holly's life. I'm still awestruck at how vivid a picture Buzo gives us of Holly and her lifestyle, making us as the reader feel her pain and growth. I can't wait for Buzo's next novel, whenever it may release, since I just adore her writing style. You're right - she's worth the money! :)

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  7. So. I need to read this. RIGHT THIS MINUTE! You're so right about there being something in the water over there in Australia Jasprit, I haven't read a single book by an Aussie author I didn't like. Cath Crowley and Kirsty Eagar are auto-buys for me (when I can find their books), and I definitely need to give Laura a try!

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  8. I completely agree w/what you said about Aussie authors. Have you read Raw Blue? Gorgeous.

    This book would have never crossed my path, and now I'm happy it has. I'm adding Holier Than Thou to my tbr.

    Lovely review, Jasprit!

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  9. This is one Aussie book that is definitely on my TBR shelf! There is definitely something in the water over there. :) Great review, Jasprit!

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  10. I've had my eye on this one for a while and am so thrilled that you loved it. I do love an Aussie author! *Adds to wishlist*

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  11. I love Aussie reads! I actually saw your rating for this one on my Goodreads feed yesterday and immediately added it to my wishlist, so I'm hoping I can get my hands on a copy soon!

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  12. I'm not sure how many aussie reads I've really read! This sounds awesome and I haven't heard of it before. Glad you enjoyed it so much!

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  13. This sounds amazingly good! I have been silently collecting work by aussie authors but my review pile is so heavy that I still haven't started reading any of them. Hopefully I'll have more time in the summer to rectify my issue. Brilliant review, Jas!

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  14. Awesome review, Jasprit! I really want to read more books by Aussie authors. I keep hearing wonderful things about those authors. This one sounds quite good! Maybe not something I should now, though, as I'm just about to graduate college...haha...it might hit too close to home, so to speak.

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  15. I remember reading Keertana's review awhile back and loved her review of it. I really want more Aussie titles to be published in the US! ARGH. That way I can get my hands on them! HOLIER THAN THOU doesn't seem like the plot is all that unique, but the way you describe the characters and the genuine development of them seems way too great to pass up. Beautiful review, Jasprit!

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  16. SO glad you loved this, Jas! Holly's story felt so realistic to me, too! I think anyone in their 20s could relate to this.

    And that ending - ag! I couldn't believe it was over at that point. I NEED to know what happened next - I wonder if you had the same thought as me about what was about to happen?!

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  17. Flann challenged me to read this one just last month, which means I'll definitely be reading it soon. After all the glowing reviews, yours and Keertana's included, I have no doubts whatsoever. I adored Buzo's debut, her style is absolutely wonderful, so I know I'll love this too.
    Wonderful review as always, my friend.

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  18. oh wow, this sounds amazing. I am ashamed to say I've never read a book by an Aussie author but i've heard countless readers and bloggers express their love for them. I must at least pick this book up!!

    great review, I love realistic stories and ones that keep you connected with the characters

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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  19. This is one of the books I'm hoping to read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge this year - it sounds like a great book, and this review just makes me want to read it a bit more!

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  20. I've only read one Aussie book, and that was by Melina Marchetta, and my experience wasn't the greatest. But it was only one book and I have to admit, this sounds fantastic. Holly sounds like an amazing protag to be reading through; I love that you were able to connect with and feel for her so easily. Brilliant review, Jasprit! :)

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  21. Wow, Jasprit, it looks like this one really affected you emotionally! I love how Holly felt so realistic to you, and that the author was able to create such a real and raw character. The fact that Holly really got under your skin- in a good way, really makes me excited for this book. I also love when you lose yourself so completely in a story, and especially a character. There have been very few times when I mix up my problems with the character's, and it's amazing when that happens. It seems like that's precisely what happened with you hear, which makes me even MORE excited to read this one.

    Fabulous review as always Jasprit! <3

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  22. I've hardly read any Aussie books, which is pretty bad of me. I'm aiming to read more this year, so maybe I could start with Holier Than Thou!

    It sounds like this had a massive impact on you, Jasprit. It always manages to amaze me when a book can really get under your skin. Holly sounds like the kind of protaganist I would love to read from, with her raw and honest voice that manages to absorb you in her complicated world.

    I'm really glad you enjoyed this. This is another beautiful review, Jasprit. Seriously, the number of books I've added to my TBR due to your reviews is ridiculous! Lol! :)

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  23. I really enjoyed Love and other Perishable Items... It was a very real romance even though it didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it makes it more believable and it sounds like this one does the same thing. Buzo is definitely an author I want to read again!

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  24. Having just read Love and Other Perishable Items, I completely agree with your opinions about this wonderful Aussie author! Also, this line is beautiful, " I didn’t want to part from her life, I’d become so tangled in it." I'm soooo thrilled that you liked this one, Jasprit! :) Let's hope Laura Buzo writes more incredible books in the future...

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  25. Your post shows me that I'm definitely right in putting Holier Than Thou on my TBR list. To be honest, the only YA Aussie writer I've really read is Melina Marchetta, though I definitely want to read some works by Eager and Buzo! I'm particularly interested in this book because, like you, I feel like I can relate to Holly's life changes, having just recently started experiencing them myself. For some reason, I feel like I haven't come across too many books dealing with this age range (or maybe I just haven't been looking in the right places). It would be refreshing to read about a character I can relate to on a more personal level. Wonderful review, Jasprit!

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  26. I have heard nothing but good things about this book Jasprit and I'm so glad you loved it too! There is something about Aussie authors that make you want to just go there and live there (after all, many of their books are not published in America). There is something about an author when she writes a character that you can connect so well too! I must get this book!

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