This is an anthology of special stories which give an authentic account of what it’s like to be a teenager. What makes this collection especially unique is that the stories in it are written by teenagers themselves.
Award-winning author Alice Pung has selected 25 stories written by high school students inspired by her bestselling YA novel, Laurinda. This story collection is a lively read. It features an impressive range of genres by unique voices. The topics raised in the book include: intergenerational friendship, bullying, and heartbreak. From epiphanies on an African safari, to settling into a new school when you have just moved to Australia, to a prank gone wrong and finding love in unexpected places, the stories in My First Lesson are honest, imaginative, surprising, thoughtful, and moving.
The selected writers have been adventurous in their experimental pieces, working with symbolism, fairytale, realism, comedy, science fiction, and more. Some have explored difficult first days at new schools; others have described experiencing racism and jarring migrations.
There are some common threads running throughout My First Lesson: these include trying to cope with growing up in a new country; attempting to fit in; and the loneliness that comes from realizing that you are different to others. You are considered different because your school lunch has curry, so you are and called “Curry Girl” for the rest of your school days.
This collection is great for its honesty and heartfelt depiction of emotion. Throughout the consumption of My First Lesson, readers will be reminded of what it was like to be a teenager, to grapple with many conflicting thoughts and find the words and courage to express these.
Irina Markovsky is based in Sydney. You can follow her on twitter at @MomentinArt.