Review: Clancy of the Undertow

Clancy Underhill is 16 years old, living in a tiny, dead end town. She doesn’t fit in – she’s not one of the popular kids, she likes science, and she’s gay (but not out). Life seems tough enough when Clancy’s father is involved with a road crash in which two popular local teens are killed. Clancy and her family find themselves the target of backlash from the town, although no charges have been laid against her father.

I requested this book from Netgalley entirely because of the title, a play on the famous Clancy of the Overflow by Banjo Patterson, which is one of my favourite bush poems. Little did I know at the time that the writer is a local Brisbane guy, who works at Avid Reader, a fabulous local indie book store.

Clancy was an absolute delight. Her character is smart and funny, and trying to find her way in the world in less than perfect circumstances. Currie captures her personality, her dilemmas and the tone of small town life perfectly, and fills the story out with some great characters. Clancy is infatuated by Sandra, girlfriend of the chief of the bogans who launches the campaign of vilification against Clancy’s father. Despite this, Sandra seems to choose this time to loom large in Clancy’s life. Sandra seems to pity Clancy for how she is being treated, but is also seriously annoyed with her boyfriend, who she is sure is cheating on her. Clancy has admired Sandra from afar and is very excited that she is now getting to spend time with her crush.

Nancy also comes into Clancy’s life during this troubling time. Nancy is new to town, and Clancy is certain that when Nancy realises she is not in the popular group, Nancy will ditch her. Nancy and Clancy’s eventual friendship is hard won, and this small step helps Clancy feel like less of the loser she is certain that she is.

Clancy of the Undertow is a story about friendship and family, and how important both are to making it through your teenage years.

5 out of 5 awkward teen moments.



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