One True Thing by Nicole Hayes


One True Thing by Nicole Hayes
Young adult, contemporary, romance
May 2015; Random House Australia

When is a secret not a secret? When your whole life is public.

Frankie is used to being a politician's daughter, but it's election time, so life's crazier than usual. Add a best friend who's being weirdly distant, a brother to worry about, and the fact that Frankie's just humiliated herself in front of a hot guy - who later turns up at band practice to interview her about her music. 

Jake seems to like Frankie - really like her. But then everything crumbles. Photos appear of Frankie's mum having secret meetings with a younger man - and she refuses to tell the public why. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out the truth - even if it means losing Jake. 




One True Thing is the sophomore contemporary YA offering from a compelling emergent feminist voice in YA publishing. Nicole Hayes writes about women operating in spheres where they aren't expected to be or necessarily welcome, and I couldn't get enough of how she handled the minefield of women in politics in One True Thing. I literally gritted my teeth when I read the smarmy political blogger Seamus Hale asked Frankie's mum about playing, 'the gender card'. There were echoes of the media treatment of Julia Gillard, Penny Wong and even Hillary Clinton in how the media can push the boundaries of good taste when reporting on high-profile women in male-dominated spaces.

For me, the standout triumph of One True Thing were the characters. There were adults in this novel who made decisions that I just did not agree with (Frankie’s dad, I’m looking at you), but every character in this novel was expertly drawn. Frankie was a smart and sassy protagonist, and I sympathise with her as family and most important friendships seemed to fall apart around her, even as I got frustrated at her emotional, flawed, understandable reactions to the people who love her. I fell for her love interest Jake straight away - a cute, artsy journo with curly hair and dimples? I'm in favour. The romance subplot was sweet and perfectly paced, with just the amount of miscommunication and fault in their main conflict.

I appreciated that the love story never overshadowed the importance of Frankie’s family or friendships. Nicole Hayes has nailed Frankie’s tremulous anxiety about her transforming friendships, and her sense of disorientation and anger that follows the unsettling of the family she thought unshakable. This heartfelt new novel is a worthy addition to the excellent canon of Australian YA.

Also, Nicole joined us on #OzYAChat on Twitter last Thursday for a Q&A, and she's lovely - you can check out the chat here.

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9 comments

  1. I can't go past a politically charged book, especially when it hints at men of a certain age who take issue with women in power. It really makes for an emotionally charged read. I love the sound of the romance too, that it takes a back seat to the actual storyline. There's nothing worse that having a forced romance to bring down otherwise likable characters. Jake sounds absolutely darling too.

    Fantastic review Soph, so excited to grab a copy of this one, especially seeing Melbourne is on the cover as well <3

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    1. Isn't the cover spectacular?! It's a very timely book, and it never condescends to its teenage audience. And yeah the romance subplot was just so great, because Jake does play an important role (both positive and negative) but her concern for her family and best friends is always front and centre. I definitely recommend getting yourself a copy asap! :)

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  2. Aww I love it! This is a really nice review! I'm glad you found it had the right sort of balance of romance and plot because I hate when books do too much of one or the other (usually it's the romance side of things) and it makes the rest of the plot seem kind of pointless. I'm definitely looking out for this one! I've added it to my ever growing to-be-read list! Thanks for sharing Sophie! xx

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    1. Yeah I totally agree. I think it's best when a book gives just enough romance that you're left wanting more, rather than lathering it on and over doing it. Pleasure to share! This reviewing thing is fun! :)

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  3. YAY congrats on your first review! I really want to read this because 1) Aussie author 2) contemporary YA and 3) feminism. They're all things I'm really interested, so I'll definitely have to find a copy of this :)

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    1. Thank you! Because also 4) politics. Definitely worth it! :)

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  4. Great review for a great book! One of the things I loved about it was the side characters. The "gay best friend" was so much more than the stereotype we normally get. I also loved the political angle.

    Welcome to the ranks of Aussie bloggers/reviewers :)

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    1. Thank you! You're so right, Kessie was amazing and so well-drawn! It was so refreshing!

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