Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over

Miranda Luby

Sadie Starr's Guide to Starting Over
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Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over

Miranda Luby

Sadie Starr attempts to leave her old self behind, but life at her new school proves starting over is more complicated than it sounds.   

Sadie Starr is obsessed with starting over. A new year, a new diet, a new social media identity. Anything that gives her a chance to be a better version of herself.   

So when her dad’s job moves the family interstate, Sadie’s excited for a fresh start. It’s also the perfect excuse to leave behind the mess she’s made with her best friend and secret crush, Daniel, whose advances she rejected - for fear of screwing things up.   

But at her new school, life gets complicated fast. She meets glamorous Alexa and her pink-badged girl gang, on a mission to ‘support women’, and outcast Jack, who the girls say has been stalking fellow student Loz. But Loz has a different story, one that changes everything.   

Sadie’s torn. She wants to be popular. She wants to keep Loz’s secret. She wants to fix everything. But she’ll have to make choices. And the wrong ones could throw her perfect new life into complete chaos.   

Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over is an engaging, funny-serious look at the downsides of aiming too high, the dangers of black and white thinking - and the journey to realising imperfections are part of being human.

Review

Sadie Starr is starting over. Her parents are moving her from Sydney to Melbourne, which means a fresh new identity. She has a new wardrobe, a new diet and a clean slate. Once in Melbourne, she’s immediately taken under the wing of the coolest girl in school and everything seems perfect. But then things begin to go wrong and Sadie is sent into a downward spiral.

Sadie just wants to fit in at school and make her parents proud, but she’s constantly being pulled in different directions. Her friends are demanding, her mother wants her to be popular and skinny, and her dad seems to only care about how well she’s doing academically. Plus she’s missing her best friend back home.

Although a lot of issues are tackled in this book, debut author Miranda Luby does an excellent job of exploring each of them with accuracy and care, never causing the reader to feel overwhelmed. We witness Sadie’s experience with her eating disorder up close: when things are going well, she feels in control. She exercises, calorie counts and keeps her grades up. But as soon as things start to go wrong, the binge eating begins and her grades suffer.

Sadie is an incredibly relatable character. At times, she just follows along with what her new friends tell her and doesn’t stop to question things for herself. She often can’t see what is right in front of her and I just wanted to reach into the book and shake her. At other times, I wanted to give her a hug and tell her she’s going to be okay.

Powerful and engaging, Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over explores performative feminism, #MeToo, eating disorders, bullying, family dynamics and grief.

For ages 14+.

Lucie Dess is the marketing assistant at Readings

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