Lili Wilkinson

Allen & Unwin
1 August 2009


Lili Wilkinson

The pink jumper was practically glowing in my grey bedroom. It was like a tiny bit of Dorothy’s Oz in boring old black-and-white Kansas. Pink was for girls.

Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.

Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she’s a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.

But while she’s busy trying to fit in - with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew - Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined.


Ava has just transferred to Billy Hughes, a selective high school, in a bid to think about who she really is. After getting involved in the school musical, Ava ping-pongs between the popular ‘pastels’, and the nerdy stage crew (Screws), never sure of where she belongs. She hides her girlfriend Chloe from her new friends, and banks on an image change to fit in. Inevitably, things start to unravel for Ava, despite her best efforts and intentions.

Pink is equally entertaining and thought-provoking. Wilkinson tackles some big issues – gender, feminism, sexuality and racism – with a light touch. These teenagers are only just starting to grapple with these issues, and the discussions happen in the character’s own words, against a backdrop of rehearsals, carpentry lessons, drunken parties, and sci-fi movie marathons. Pink is chock-full of snappy dialogue, gentle humour, Melbourne landmarks, and friendship dramas.

Pink deserves a wide audience. The (very pink) cover will dissuade a lot of boys, but hopefully they will read their sister’s copy on the sly.

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