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Australian, Mystery, Thriller

Secret September J.C. Burke – Pretty Girl

I have struggled to stick to a particular genre each month and was going to write about this book without an alliterative title but suddenly thought of secrets….  fits with most books doesn’t it?  (Bit of a cop-out).  Anyway, I have been lucky enough to have been asked to review some books for Random House (disclosure), I don’t get anything for the reviews excpet the books and the bonus is I get to stay up to date with new releases.

Pretty GirlJC Burke

pretty girl

I had heard of the author of Pretty Girl as my school booklisted CBCA Book of the Year, The Story of Tom Brennan but had to forgo teaching it owing to a student driving tragedy.  So when Random House sent me Pretty Girl I was curious to see how good JC Burke was as a YA author. I was pleasantly surprised and whilst I read Pretty Girl two weeks ago the more disturbing elements of the storyline and the warnings have stayed with me. However, it was a little predictable.  The cover and blurb hint at a psychological thriller, but as the reader is in the all-knowing position (omniscient narrator) and sees the mistakes of the three girls early on, it does lose a bit of its edge. Ididn’t fall for the red-herrings.  Despite this, I did find myself wanting to yell at the characters “Don’t trust him!!!” and did get quite involved in the plot. I really liked the university setting and older age group of the characters as it seemed more believable and sends a good message to students about leaving home, college and who should you trust.  So overall it is a book I will pass on and recommend to my Year 9 and 10 students.

Having enjoyed my first experience of JC Burke I then read – The Story of Tom Brennan, The Red Cardigan, The Starfish Sisters and Faking Sweet.  Of these the two that only Tom Brennan and The Red Cardigan stand up as equals or better than Pretty Girl.  I think I found the teen setting/characters of the Starfish Sisters and Faking Sweet a bit shallow and dated, mind you I am an adult.

Random House have a teacher’s guide to Pretty Girl


About hgtl

I am a secondary English/History teacher (BA DipEd, MA (Education) and a Teacher Librarian (MEd). I LOVE to research and through this site aim to -Support the introduction of the Australian Curriculum (especially in History) through sourcing quality and varied internet based sources (research guides) - Support teachers through conducting education based literature reviews - Provide suggestions on useful Web 2.0 tools - Offer other services such as curriculum writing, library collection assessment, novel recommendations (see my blog


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