Social Justice with Vegetables

GREEN VALENTINE
Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin, RRP $16.99
August 2015

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Green Valentine is a beam of sunshine through the dark cloud of cynicism. Let’s face it; fiction these days, and in particular young adult fiction, can be pretty bleak. There’s The Hunger Games, where a totalitarian region maintains order through fear by forcing children to slaughter each other. The Harry Potter series, known for its quirky humour, also straddles dark territory with beloved characters dying during the terror of war. These are poignant stories which allow the reader to ride waves of emotion; fear, anger, sadness; and feel just that little bit more alive, to exist wholly in the moment. But when the worlds we read are always dark they can shape our perception until, perhaps, we then see only darkness in our own world.

So in the landscape of distrust that real life is becoming, perhaps we owe it to ourselves to find stories that celebrate the joy and excitement of life, to surround ourselves by inspiration rather than despair. Which brings us back to Green Valentine. Lili Wilkinson has written an unapologetically optimistic story of finding love, learning acceptance and changing the world, one strawberry at a time, and it’s like a warm shower after a week’s worth of camping in the rain. It could possibly even be the sweetest story ever written. Continue reading

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