A review of The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

Reviewed by Tzipporah Tiffenright

The Harper Effect
by Taryn Bashford
Pan Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 9781760552091, Paperback, 27/12/2017, 384 pp, $18.99

I loved the beginning of this book, the way Bashford delved straight into the action, Harper being ditched by her tennis coach. In the first few chapters, each character was introduced effortlessly, all flowing into each other in the different situations; Aria, who is Harper’s older sister, Jacob, the child hood friend her sister and her both are in love with, Milo, Harper’s chilled new tennis coach and Colt, her new moody doubles partner.

Colt and Harper’s flirtatious, yet intense relationship is highly entertaining, and makes you chant for them all throughout. Some of the moments they shared were breathtaking and the playfulness in the way in which they interacted as they became more friendly was heart melting. It was a vast contrast in the way their relationship changed throughout the book, from when they first met, loathing each other, to true friends they become and the depth of their connection. The way the author describes Colt opening up to Harper is just gorgeous, describing his face ‘unbuttoning’ towards her, and his smile ‘overtaking’ his face.

Before tennis became her life, Harper’s childhood was great, with her loving parents and dogs. The highlight, Jacob, Aria and Harper making an inseparable trio, named ‘The Ragamuffins’ or ‘Raggers’ for short. All Harper’s favourite memories, though, took place in the jacaranda forest at her back door step, with the river running through it. They named this place, ‘The Purple Woods’. What the Purple Woods symbolise for Harper throughout the book, made me ache, and the fact she kept referring to it as her safe place when her world started falling apart, what with Aria and Jacob falling in love, when she too loved the boy, you truly sympathize with her in the beginning. At one point I loved the imagery Bashford used; Harper thinking their lives at the moment were a block tower, like the ones their made when they were little. She said that when it was perfect it started to topple over, then crash into a million pieces on the floor.

The name of the book was cleverly chosen, I thought, because the story revolved around Harper going away a lot, then when she came home it was all about her; her sister referred to it as ‘The Harper Show.’ The book focused on what effect Harper has on those around her, and, about mid book, she kept asking herself questions along the lines of, ‘If I didn’t exist, would this happen’. Her growth woven in the story makes you aware of how far she has come since the start, especially in her ‘mental toughness’.

The whole mix-up of the book, with elements of tennis, teenage and torture, it makes it relatable for people aged 13 to young adults, especially girls. The repeated message of following your dreams rings clear throughout, even when mixed up in love, relationships and secrets. I really enjoyed The Harper Effect as a whole, and loved the fluent, artistic way it was written. It is definitely a book I will re-read and recommend to others.

About the reviewer: Tzipporah Tiffenright, often known as Zippie, has loved writing and reading all her life. Libraries are a second home to her, along with Young People’s Theatre which houses her love for drama. She goes to a performing arts high school where she focuses on drama, but tap dances, plays piano, writes songs and sings. Zippie’s singing group, with her sister and mother, are called Songlarks and perform regularly. Follow Songlarks on Instagram for updates on gigs and performances @songlarks_

Zippie published her first book at 8, through her great uncle’s publishing company, The Maitland Press, and has published 3 more since, with her fifth book coming soon and another stand-alone being written. In year 7, she came first in her year for English, she loves writing book reviews and is thirteen years old. Recently, she has launched her new student newsletter.