Some wonderful things have happened this year.
Stone Girl was shortlisted in the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature thanks to the 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The prize money in this category was $30000. This would have made a huge difference in my ability to keep going with the next book with less stress.
It didn’t win. But what an experience it was to attend the ceremony. It was a gala affair with the state library of NSW washed in red lights. I sipped the champagne. I ate the horderves. But I’ll be honest. As I sat there hoping and praying it would be Stone Girl my heart was slamming itself against my ribs – not a great feeling. Who knew anxiety had such strength?
I’m so grateful to the judges for shortlisting the book and a huge congratulations to winning title Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough.
Stone Girl is a heartbreaking and uncompromising novel of survival and hope, an important story about a girl who is forced to live in the foster care system after her mother dies. Hale has written a novel for older teens that is compelling, and an absolute page-turner, but it is more than that. This book takes you into the world of wards of the state and gives voice to forgotten characters, such as the protagonist Sophie.
The strength of Stone Girl is the authentic voice which is gritty, honest and confronting. Not for the faint-hearted, Stone Girl manages to avoid being didactic yet still offers insights based on the author’s own experiences as a ward of the state. Hale’s prose is stunning, her writing both raw and eloquent. This novel is a strong advocate for a refocus on how we deal with young people raised within institutions without support of family.