A review of Take Three Girls by Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley, and Fiona Wood

Reviewed by Emily McDonell

Take Three Girls
by Simmone Howell, Cath Crowley, and Fiona Wood
Pan Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 9781742612744, Paperback, 29 Aug 2017, 448pp, $18.99aud

“Bye bye binary. For gender, for sexuality, for everything. … Lots of people can like lots of people. And could everyone please get over it and update their idea of normal.”

Winner of the Children’s Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Inky Awards, Take Three Girls is a terrific contemporary read which is full of uniquely beautiful and quirky characters who challenge stereotypes. Take Three Girls is reminiscent of ‘The Breakfast Club’ and follows a similar storyline – a seemingly unlikely friendship between a mix of diverse characters who all fit into their own cliques.

Take Three Girls takes place in St Hilda’s – a private girls boarding school in Victoria, Australia. In this novel we meet Clem – once a swimmer, now dealing with boy troubles and body image; Kate who is torn between her heart and head, whether she chooses to pursue her passion of music or what appears to be the correct choice; and Ady, the stylish, popular almost perfect girl, who’s life is more complicated than what is perceived.

Each girl undergoes their own challenges throughout the novel, all of which are challenges relatable in the world today. Each girl’s perspective is seen in Take Three Girls and emphasises their own individual thoughts and feelings on different situations which arise throughout the novel. I found reading the same scenario through a different set of eyes interesting and the characters sense of self is shown at its best. Character development throughout this book is one of the many surprising features which culminates in each girl creating a strong friendship and renewed confidence and attitude on their wellbeing. Ady discovers who she is and who her true friends are, Clem finds her inner strength and Kate considers what her future may be.

What struck me most when reading this novel was how issues such as sexual harassment, body image, sexuality, difficult family life and relationships, all of which are relevant to young people, particularly girls, were written in a relatable manner.
Social media, another harsh reality of our world today, was discussed in this novel. PSST is an infamous gossip website in Take Three Girls which like many that are in existence today speak with toxic tongues of spiteful comments, bullying and rumours. The movement against cyber-bullying was tackled spectacularly within this novel with a scaringly realistic gossip website targeting the girls of St Hilda’s showing when rumour is seen as the truth, it makes school that much harder.

This novel is an enjoyable, feel-good read which is easy to settle into from the very beginning. A strong stand-alone novel which I would highly recommend, particularly to young females aged 13-18. Take Three Girls is written with the perfect expression of teenage girls trying to make it through high school, figure out who they are and what the world has in store for them.

About the reviewer: Emily McDonell was first prize winner in the Hunter Writers’ Centre/Compulsive Reader book review competition. She is a high school student, an avid reader and has a passion for books. It was clear from a very early age that books would play a large part in her life. Emily has participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge since starting her schooling and her favourite subject is English. Emily has also been a Girl Guide for the past nine years and is currently working to complete her Queen’s Guide Award. Emily also loves animals especially her dog Jersey.