I have read three of Ali Smith’s books now and one thing that has always hit me, is that she captures the world of teenagers and young people exceptionally well. She portrays their hopes, dreams, innocence, uncertainties, frustrations and self doubts all at the same time, producing work which brings together jumbled emotions and wrapping them up, creates a non-patronising representation of what it is like to be young. Smith’s style is in complete harmony with the subjects that she writes about. It is fresh and often dreamlike, gracefully arranged, making the words flow across the page like poetry.
Although only a short book, Girl Meets Boy is a brilliant example of Smith’s original style. In this tale of love, Smith has taken Ovid’s myth about gender swapping Iphis, shaken it up and re-imagined it for the modern day. The writing is poetic and fluid, gliding between the thoughts and feelings of Anthea and her older sister, Midge. As with the thoughts constantly streaming through our own minds, the words flow swiftly from one idea to the next. This is also one of those books that doesn’t use speech marks – a bit of a pet hate of mine – and although it can be annoying, it does work in this situation.
The love story itself is exhilarating and charming, without being soppy or overly sentimental. There is a whirlwind, love-at-first-sight meeting between Anthea and Robin, two girls who become very happy lovers. Robin likes to spray paint important moral messages such as ‘IN NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW ARE WOMEN’S WAGES EQUAL TO MEN’S. THIS MUST CHANGE’ across the city, hoping to bring awareness and open eyes to the unfairness of the world. From Robin, Anthea learns about Iphis who changes gender to marry the woman she loves, and suddenly Anthea’s mind is open to a whole new world of ideas and possibilities.
Anthea’s thoughts are dreamy and imaginative, taking you on a colourful, sweeping journey; flying like a bird, growing like a tree and becoming one with the world around you. Midge’s thoughts are very different and much less confident. Learning that her sister is a lesbian has a big effect on her and on top of that, her mind is cluttered with other worries and insecurities. Midge is an interesting character who grows on you as her hidden feelings are gradually revealed.
Girl Meets Boy is a lively and creative piece of work about two sisters trying to find their place in the world. As the pages turn, the pace increases, bringing you to a lovely and uplifting end. There is a nice, feel good atmosphere showing the importance of having the freedom to be the person that you are.
If this sounds like the book for you, you can click the picture below to buy it!