Title: You Were Made for Me
Author: Jenna Guillaume
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 11th August 2020
Synopsis: The day I created a boy started out like any other.
Katie didn’t mean to create a boy. A boy like a long-lost Hemsworth brother: six-foot tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day; whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime.
A boy who is completely devoted to Katie.
He was meant to be perfect.
But he was never meant to exist.
Jenna was one of my first Isolation Publicity participants, and I already had her first book, What I Like About Me to read – I still need to get there! Her second book came out in August, whilst we were still grappling with the pandemic and the restrictions, so like many authors, Jenna had to improvise with release events, and work around not being able to visit bookstores. Her second book is called You Were Made For Me, and centres around sixteen-year-old Katie Camilleri, her best friend Libby, and the guy they inadvertently create out of clay and their dreams of what a perfect boyfriend would be. And that’s where Guy comes in.
Katie and Libby are shocked when their experiment and art project comes to life after a night of messing about and talking about their ideal boyfriend. Guy’s presence is baffling to everyone, and what follows is a series of events that lead to Katie and Libby trying to help Guy integrate into society, with the help of their friend, Theo.
Jenna’s second book is filled with diverse characters from a range of cultural backgrounds and in a myriad of shapes and being who they are in wonderful and realistic ways that represent the teen and in general, life experiences of young women compared to the idealised teen stories and characters we see in American film and literature.
This story is about love and infatuation, but most importantly, about friendship and finding yourself – it is about being yourself and working out who you are, even when it is painful, and navigating family and friends during those tricky teenage years. The friendship between Katie and Libby was definitely my favourite, and I loved how they grew and became closer towards the end and were able to be honest with each other – their thought interjections throughout the novel were effective and brilliantly rendered by Jenna.
I loved how Australian this novel was, and the frustrations the characters felt with American culture taking over – it felt so relatable to read a story that reflects Australia, our language and the various food we eat amidst the multicultural cast, who were allowed to be who they were. It is refreshing to read an Australian cast like this – there have been some excellent books by Australian authors lately, but I feel like Jenna has captured something about Australia and Australian culture and icons that others haven’t in a way that centres them for an Australian audience. Her story speaks to the Australian experience of school – again, something else lacking in the books I read as a teen, making the school experiences I did read about fun, but highly unrelatable. So it’s fun to finally read about experiences that are relatable as someone who grew up in Australia. It captures friendship and the school days so well, that one can imagine this taking place anywhere in Australia and see themselves in all the characters.
Any book that celebrates Australia and its cultures and people is wonderful and I love seeing so many coming out – it is impossible to read them all but I am reading as many as I can. Another great Australian book!