The Monster of Her Age

Danielle Binks

The Monster of Her Age
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The Monster of Her Age

Danielle Binks

How do you ruin someone’s childhood? You let them make-believe that they are a monster. But sooner or later, the mask must come off…

Ellie Marsden was born into the legendary Lovinger acting dynasty. Granddaughter of the infamous Lottie Lovinger, as a child Ellie shared the silver screen with Lottie in her one-and-only role playing the child monster in a cult horror movie. The experience left Ellie deeply traumatised and estranged from people she loved.

Now seventeen, Ellie has returned home to Hobart for the first time in years. Lottie is dying and Ellie wants to make peace with her before it’s too late. But forgiveness feels like playing make-believe, and memories are like ghosts.

When a chance encounter with a young film buff leads her to a feminist horror film collective, Ellie meets Riya, a girl who she might be able to show her real self to, and last comes to understand her family’s legacy - and her own part in it.

A story of love, loss, family and film - a stirring, insightful novel about letting go of anger and learning to forgive without forgetting. And about embracing the things that scare us, in order to be braver.

Review

Ellie comes from an acting dynasty: her family home – a huge old Gothic mansion in Hobart – contains at least one of every film industry award (including a couple of Oscars); Errol Flynn was considered to be the family rival; and when her famous actress grandmother, Lottie Lovinger, is rushed to hospital, A-list celebrities from Hollywood and all over the world fly in to attend her bedside vigil.

Ellie loved acting as a child, and it was expected that she would follow in the family footsteps. Up to the age of 11, that was Ellie’s plan too, but then she made her film debut co-starring with her grandmother in a cult horror movie, Blood & Jacaranda. Traumatised by the experience, Ellie distanced herself from her family and hid away in Melbourne. When she hears about Lottie’s stroke, however, Ellie comes back to make peace with her bubbe (grandmother) before it’s too late.

While in Hobart, Ellie meets Riya, a movie buff with a passion for horror and feminism who runs the Friday Night for Final Girls film club – a diverse and accessible club dedicated to the idea that horror is traditionally a feminist genre. Riya helps Ellie see herself for who she is and shows her a way though the swirl of emotions Ellie is feeling. Riya’s friendship is also adding a few other complicated – but nice – feelings into Ellie’s mix.

Danielle Binks has invented a fake Australian film history for The Monster of Her Age and I was hooked. It felt almost dirty wanting to know more about the Lovingers and their family history, like I was a tourist on the bus that drives past their house every three hours, but I loved every second of it. The Monster of Her Age deals with grief, making peace with the past and accepting love when it finds you. Fantastic for readers ages 12+.


Dani Solomon is the assistant manager at Readings Kids.

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