The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His ExThe Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Guy, The Girl, the Artist and His Ex is contemporary Australian young adult fiction that takes a real event (the theft of Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986) and weaves around it a tale of grief, loss, deception, love and friendship.

The novel started a little slowly, and I found the first chapter in particular a bit plodding and awkward. However the story soon picked up pace, and I was drawn into the world of the four main characters and their inter-weaving lives.

There are some harsh lessons to be learned in this book about family, grief, mental health, love, and self-respect. But nothing is shoved down the reader’s throat. William’s has a deft touch, and lets her characters’ actions tell the story. The structure, which divides the story into each character “type”, gives in-depth perspectives of each one’s situation. Far from being thin stereotypes, each character is fully realised and relatable. Mistakes are made. Big mistakes, with life-changing consequences. By the end of the book each character is revealed for their true selves and some are people you would want to hang out with; others, not so much.

The novel’s 1980’s setting was well realised and added to my enjoyment of the story, and small details add up to fully immerse the reader into the world of mid-80s Melbourne. Despite its somewhat slow start, the novel soon picks up pace and races along, piling event on event, each one adding nuance to the overall arc of the story. By the end I really loved this novel. It’s tragic and heartfelt, warm and funny. A wonderful read.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys contemporary young adult fiction.

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