Guitar Highway Rose – Brigid Lowry

Rosie/Saturday Morning
I can’t get started. Our new English teacher, Mr Epanomitis, says we have to write a self portrait set in the past, the present or the future, five hundred word, make it creative and interesting, due in Monday. Sounds easy. Isn’t.”
Rose is bored; she’s bored of her life, of her looks and of her family. With a control freak mum, a laid back dad and an eight year old brother who’s obsessed with computer games she flits in and out the house mindlessly. Her mum’s always on at her and her brother’s always saying something stupid, and Rose wants an adventure.
Asher is lonely; his mum’s packed him off to a new town where neither of them is happy. He misses his friends, his dad, and his old school. Life in Perth just keeps getting worse with his new school having a stupid uniform policy which he delights in not adhering to and a teacher who is hell bent on making him pay for it. He just wants out.

***
I’ve wanted to read Guitar Highway Rose for a while; it’s an older YA book, from 1996, when if memory serves me correctly YA wasn’t really established. But it was well received and a lot of people have raved about it ever since, however because it’s Australian YA I have only recently heard of it… and I knew I needed to read it from just the synopsis.
Rose is bored; she wants to be someone else, somewhere else. When she meets Asher and sees how unhappy he is they kinda bond. Rose wants something different and Asher wants company… they just mesh. Asher tries to get away, back to his dad’s house once and is caught… so when he plans it a second time and Rose figures out what he’s up to, she wants to go with him… but they aren’t going to Asher’s dads this time… they’re just going to see where the road takes them…. It’s a brilliant story and not entirely logical but there’s a fantastic quote from the book which reads: “Some ideas are not born out of logic and good sense. They sprout from nowhere and feed on excitement, sprinkled with adventure juice and the sweet flavour of the forbidden.” This sums up Rosie and Asher’s adventure and it’s a great one to share.
The story unfolds slowly but gathers up momentum. This book is very unique as it actually shows you a lot of characters’ perspectives, not just Rosie and Asher’s… you even get the thoughts of Lily, Rose’s mum, and Malvina, Asher’s mam, which is really strange for YA. I loved what they added to the story thought and how much depth each and every character had. There are even snippets from the dads and Rosie’s brother and friends too. There’s a lot going on in this book but at the same time not much goes on and I liked that about it. The main story doesn’t come to head until halfway through the book, which for a 200 page book you might find surprising, but it worked!
Another very unique thing about Guitar Highway Rose was the writing… I’ve never really seen anything like it and whilst I loved it I can imagine others would get seriously peeved with it after a while. There were long run-on sentences with little punctuation and not capital letters for proper nouns and things… this would usually really stress me out but the way it was done was great, I mean we don’t think in capital letters and with punctuation and the way it was written in some places was like you were listening to the characters thoughts… or even reading what your own thoughts would be if you were there watching the characters. The book wasn’t split into chapters either… Instead it was split up with subheadings; in bold with sometimes only one word underneath it. Whilst I loved this I can see other people not liking this style too.

The atmosphere in the book is really rather hippie-ish as well, this is something I adore and I loved the free spirit feeling behind many of the characters. This is probably helped by the year the book was written as there’s a fair few cultural references but not enough to date the book… I think the thing that most dated the book was the use of cassette tapes rather than CD’s or ipods! However this was still a great thing for me as I remember life before CDs… just! 

The thing that annoyed me a little about the book and the reason I would probably only give it 3.5 or 4 stars out of five is the ending. I feel like the book didn’t come to a natural conclusion and I saw something very different for the characters… I don’t want to expand on this but the ending jarred with me a little so it kinda lessened my love of the book… It was still a good ending though and I would really recommend this one to others, I know I’m off to find some more books by Brigid Lowry!
Guitar Highway Rose was first published in 1996 and was published by Allen and Unwin. My copy was a 2006 re-release from Allen and Unwin and I purchased it myself.
  • Really interesting review, I really like the sound of the plot but I’m not at all sure how I would get on with the way it’s written.

  • I haven’t heard of this one before, so well done for finding it Raimy. It does sound good.

  • Great review, I’ve never heard of this one. But I hate it when the ending disappoints…
    Again, great to meet you last Friday: I’m terrible, I’ve only just remembered to come and check your blog out!! 😉
    And again, great review! I’ll keep an eye out for this one!!

  • I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. Brigid Lowry wrote one of my favourite books about writing, and I re-read it all the time! I really must get this. Thank you very much for the review.

  • it is so cool you read this book 🙂 it’s one of my fave nostalgic reads, very funky and different. it’s my fave out of all lowry’s books (and she has written a few!)

    loved your thoughts on this 🙂