In one week Stone Girl will be out in stores! It’s so exciting and nerve-wrecking and all the feelings… Feelings I can’t find words for.
One of the best things about this journey has been hearing what the book meant to others.
During all the initial rejections, as I tried to write, people said, ‘just do it for yourself’ but this was never about that.
I wrote Stone Girl because I felt there was a huge gully of misunderstanding about troubled teens. In particular I wanted others to see into the secretive ‘homes’ and what it looks like from inside the head of a kid who is ‘slipping through the cracks’.
It’s a pretty special feeling to see that understanding reflected in some of the first reviews. I’m so grateful to those who take the time to leave reviews. It means so much!
Here are a few:
Sophie grows up saddled with a missing dad and an unreliable alcoholic mother. At the tender age of 12, she finds her mother dead and blames herself. As there is no one to take care of her, Sophie is taken into the Victorian government’s child welfare system, where she is virtually alone. Constantly moving homes and living with older kids who introduce her to smoking, drinking and stealing, Sophie tries to go against everyone’s expectations, but the system swallows her whole. The realism of Sophie’s decline from dedicated student and carer to truant drug addict in an abusive relationship makes readers question a bureaucratic and broken system that often fails to take care of our most vulnerable. Author Eleni Hale has been through the system, and her experience resonates throughout the pages of this debut. Hale has written a novel that is so much more than just a fantastic book. This is a book that gives a voice to the forgotten ones, the kind of book a child stuck in the system might pick up and feel some hope after reading it. And maybe, just maybe some real change will occur.
L J Lacey is the owner of Three Four Knock on the Door Bookshop
Stone Girl by Eleni Hale arrived a few weeks ago (ahead of its 30 April release) and I was torn apart by it. THIS BOOK. Right here. It’s must-read #LoveOzYA. It cut me to pieces then stitched me back up ragged. I loved it. Reading Eleni reminded me of when I was 11 or 12 and read #MargaretClark’s ‘Back on Track: Diary of a Street Kid’ and ‘Care Factor Zero’ for the first time – #booksabout teens whose life was so different from my own, whose existence I’d never even considered or remotely understood until those stories came along. As an adult I wasn’t surprised to learn that Margaret Clark worked full time at an alcohol & drug centre, and mostly with at-risk youth and the homeless. Eleni’s book is telling an even more intimate, shattering story – inspired by her own time as a “homes kid” – ‘Stone Girl’ is a confronting tale of teens who fall through the cracks. It’s raw and terrifying, electrifying and tender. And telling another side to #WeNeedDiverseBooks in Australia – a necessary story. Read it. ?? “If there was Armageddon tomorrow? Well, then all those school-goers would be the unschooled and I’d be in my element. Survival is all about circumstances and who’s prepared for the current situation.”
“Stone Girl blew me away! It’s the best YA debut I’ve read in a long time. Utterly unforgettable.
Eleni Hale spills the blood of raw experience across the pages and drew me in from the first chapter. Launching her protagonist, Sophie, on a journey through an explosive opener, and destroying the old broken world she inhabited, with a new and darker one. Page by page, I was drawn into a world that was so visceral I could almost touch it. As Sophie is drawn deeper and deeper into a world that frightens her, that she wanted no part of, Hale hands us shocking realities in the one fist and compassion and understanding in the other. We follow Sophie on a journey, where we come to understand how kids reach a place where nobody cares and nothing matters.
Eleni Hale’s prose is stunning, her analogies fresh, her writing raw and uncensored. This is an honest story that doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities facing kids on the fringes. Very few writers are capable of telling this story, so I commend Eleni Hale for having the courage, the skill and the honesty to write it.
Stone Girl is a rare and unique insight into modern day orphans, but more importantly, it examines a government system that professes to protect and shelter these vulnerable kids, while failing dismally. Hale manages to show us the complexity of meeting the needs of vulnerable kids in a system where there is no permanence – of home, of family, of friendships, of possessions. It is a stark reminder of the need for stability, love and care for all of us – especially kids. But Hale has one final message to deliver in this book, and it’s a message of which she is living proof. We all have choices. Even in the most dire of circumstances, we each have the choice to take charge of our lives and work to make them better.
This is an important book. It exposes a world few of us understand and teaches us about humanity along the way.”