Review: City by James Roy

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Title: City
Series: None, companion to Town
Author: James Roy
Published by: University of Queensland Press 2012
Genre: YA, contemporary, short stories
Length: 312 pages
Rating: 4 stars
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Everyone has a story

The people in City aren’t special. They’re the young people you walk past everyday – school students, uni students, struggling poets, graffiti artists, drug addicts, country girls and accidental criminals. But that’s the brilliance of this book. In a world where young people are often ignored or even shunned, it’s a reminder that everyone, even a kid staring into space on the bus, has a story.

Each chapter is a snapshot into another person’s life. Whether it’s a boy watching his house burn down, a girl desperately missing her country town home, a boy’s letter to his mother explaining where everything went wrong, or a short poem, each story is entertaining and provides a window into that person’s life.

The city is never named, and sometimes it could be any city in the world, but sometimes the characters are uniquely Australian. It represented the full spectrum of multicultural Australia without covering up the prejudices and racism we pretend aren’t there. However James Roy never sets a judgmental tone. He simply uses his characters, his straightforward writing and realistic dialogue to tell the story as it is.

The stories didn’t follow a traditional structure. There’s no beginning or ending and there’s no back stories. It really is just like being inside a young person’s head for a few days or hours. It can be frustrating for stories to simply end in the middle, but to me that’s the best part of this book.

Our stories don’t end until I lives do, and even then some stories carry on without us.