Laurinda by Alice Pung

Laurinda by Alice Pung
Young adult: drama
July 2014; Black Inc
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Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its hidden centre of power is The Cabinet, a triangle of girls who wield power over their classmates – and some of their teachers.

Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches The Cabinet in action, and is courted by them – as she learns about power and repression – Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.

Few genres are more enthralling than the school story. In Laurinda, the acclaimed Alice Pung tells an involving, original story that captures the drama and pain of school life today, as well as revealing much about the choices of young women.

Laurinda is an intelligent, insightful high school drama that evokes the anxiety and angst of an elite girls’ school with precision and honesty. Lucy Lam is a feisty and sympathetic protagonist as she navigates the perilous social dynamics of the prestigious Laurinda Ladies’ College while trying to keep her integrity and self possession intact. As a first-generation Chinese Australian scholarship student, Lucy’s narration adds a welcome dimension of racial and socio-economic diversity to the school story genre.

The systemic nature of the mean girl clique, the Cabinet, may take some suspension of disbelief, but the school-sanctioned tokenism and the casual racism that characterises Lucy’s interaction with Laurinda rings true. The Cabinet’s manipulative behaviour is tolerated by their peers – as bullying is in schools everywhere. Even the unsympathetic terrorisation of an intimidated teacher and the harassment of the hot male teacher for the mean girls’ amusement are so realistic it is uncomfortable. 

Laurinda belongs in secondary English classes around the country, but more than just a beautifully crafted and culturally worthwhile novel, it’s a genuinely engaging, satisfying read.
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4 comments

  1. I've seen this around a little on instagram, but haven't heard to much on blogs yet. It sounds very interesting and as someone who went to a girls school (albeit a pretty small and definitely not prestigious one), I'm immediately intrigued. Really lovely review Sophie :)
    Michelle @ The Unfinished Bookshelf

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    1. That's how I felt too! My school was private, but the dynamic between the girls and teachers definitely translated to Laurinda as a private school!

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  2. I'm writing a book based in a boarding school for NaNoWriMo this year so I definitely have to read this one! I've seen SO many great things about it, and for some reason I just love boarding school books (blame watching Wildchild fifty bazillion times).

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    1. I love them too! I blame all the Enid Blyton and Harry Potter I read as a kid (then On the Jellicoe Road!) I'll be excited to hear your updates during November! I do love a good school story, and Laurinda is definitely a great one!

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