Karen Gregory’s Skylark is a new take on an old story. The well-worn formula of an unexpected romance between two teenagers from very different worlds is reinterpreted when Joni meets Annabell. Skylark is romantic without veering to the sentimental, a love story between two girls that resists over-emphasising the significance of the same-sex coupling. The drama unfolds through light humour, witty dialogue and well described scenes.
Plot is simple, placing the reader into the ordinary but no less important life of Joni. Sixteen years old and about to undertake her A-levels, Joni has quite enough to contend with between her studies and family’s struggles to manage their finances. Yet life becomes even more complicated when she meets Annabell. As the girls get to know one another, they share their wishes and dreams, escape the challenging realities of family expectations and responsibilities.
The novel is at its finest when detailing the blossoming romance, the intense delights are balanced by nerves and fear that accompany these first forays into physical and emotional delights. Where the novel is let down is the rather too easy differentiation between the rich and poor, a little too clearly divided into bad and good.
The secondary plot details Joni’s growing activism, and her friends and siblings are strong supporting characters whose inclusion adds much to dialogue.
Skylark is a romance set in a world parallel to the reader’s, and Joni’s story of maturation cannot escape the reality of class, family and community. An ideal read for Young Adults.