The Flywheel by Erin Gough, paperback novel, 306 pages, published by Hardie Grant Egmont in 2015.
Del’s life is complicated. After her mother left, Del encouraged her heart-broken father to travel overseas and take time for himself. While he is away, Del is running her father’s café, The Flywheel. She was supposed to just be helping out the manager, but he got deported, and now she’s on her own, trying desperately to keep things going, and she just can’t tell her dad. She also wants to avoid going back to school, where she is supposed to be in year eleven. She’s been copping it for being gay, with the ‘popular’ girls leading the charge with claims of stalking and voyeurism. And she’s got her friend Charlie to worry about; and her crush on Rosa, a girl that dances Flamenco at the Tapas Bar across the road.
A poignant and compelling story of a girl trying to find her place in the world, The Flywheel is about friendship, love, loss, and making the best of any situation. Beautifully written from the stand-point of Delilah, the gay 17 year old protagonist, I found this book to be incredibly hard to put down. I would have finished it in one sitting, but I really needed to sleep!
With excellent description, I could be sitting in The Flywheel now, sipping a triple chocolate milkshake, eating a HAT sandwich and watching the uni students play poker. Or chatting with one of the sunburnt backpackers. Or watching Rosa dance gracefully around the floor at Charada, her red skirt flying. It all felt very true to life. Even the awful bullying that Del faced at school sounded similar to things hurled about in my own school days. I hate that any child should have to endure torture like that, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ella (or Georgina) catch a football with her face!
Del is an amazing girl. She is smart, funny, kind, brave, loyal… the list really could go on. I liked her very much. Her life might be in the toilet, but she never really gives up. Determined and independent, she is confident in her sexuality, but expects too much of others. As the story progressed, Del came to know a lot more about herself, and how to live the life she wanted. Charlie also developed quite a lot through the book. He is kind of crazy, yet loveable. He added spice to the story with some of his antics, and his fickleness in love. He is a very good friend to Del. The supporting characters were also well described and easy to picture. I especially liked Misch; she made me laugh.
The Flywheel is a delicious look at contemporary Australian teenage life. It does contains some swearing and sexual references and it is most suitable for middle and upper high school students, through to adults.
* The Flywheel is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Older Readers category.