Pauline’s Shelf-Talker: “Green Valentine,” Lili Wilkinson

green valentine

When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She’s Lobster Girl and he’s Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse. Classic romantic comedy: girl-meets-boy, love blossoms, and is derailed. Incredibly engaging, upbeat, funny and smart.  Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect. Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school. But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them? A comedy about life and love and trying to make the planet a better place, with a little heartbreak, and a whole lot of hilarity.

Readers of contemporary Australian YA will be very familiar with Lili Wilkinson who has had success with her previous novels such as Pink and The Zigzag Effect.  Although the blurb makes this out to be a romantic comedy, and it is romantic and funny, this novel is so much more than that.  It tackles some environmental issues that are of great concern to many in our community but it also shows that you can have a sense of humour about yourself and the beliefs that you hold passionately dear.  Both Astrid and Hiro hold strong beliefs but both are also flawed: Astrid is passionate about consumerism and packaging and gardening and making a difference, but she is also sometimes judgemental and preachy.  Hiro, on the other hand, is rebellious and recalcitrant but somehow they become friends as they undertake midnight Guerrilla Gardening.  Filled with humorous footnotes about serious environmental issues both of them learn that sometimes you just have to give a little to get a lot.

Suitable for 14+

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