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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

 

Amazing YA with Gila Green and an Update on Her Australian Publisher

Many of you will know Gila Green because you've taken a WOW! class with her, read an article she's written for us, or watched one of her video posts, where she explained an important element of flash stories to you.  I was lucky enough to be asked to read her latest young adult novel, No Entry, and provide a blurb for the cover. The novel deals with elephant poaching, terrorism, teenage love, finding your identity, and so much more. I was honored. I wound up writing an entire review, and I want to share it with you today for a couple reasons:

1. If you are a young adult writer, you need to read good young adult fiction--read Gila Green.
2. Gila's publisher was located in Australia. Gila wrote to me and said this, "Stormbird burned to the ground and was evacuated in the Australian fires. They can use all the support available. They hope to rebuild and reopen in April. " This is devastating! Can you imagine being that publisher or those authors?

On Stormbird Press's website, they wrote, "In the aftermath, Stormbird Press is in the process of finding solutions (financial, marketing, and logistical) to help us get back on our feet. In the immediate short-term this means that:
  • All stock (physical books) have been lost to the fire.
  • As a result of loss of premises, equipment, and the need for key staff to rebuild their homes and lives, the press is unable to publish new books until later in 2020.
  • Although we utilise print-on-demand technology, there may be delays in posting hard copy books.
  • Beyond the short-term, Stormbird Press is rebuilding and planning for a climate-changed future. We intend to survive and thrive."
You can buy Gila's wonderful book as an ebook and help support this lovely press. More info on that after the review. 

Here's what I thought about Gila's book:


No Entry is a timely, beautiful, and complicated young adult novel written by Gila Green, a masterful storyteller, about a Canadian high school student who spends the summer at South Africa’s Kruger National Park after her brother’s death and her parents’ move to Africa. Yael Amar has a lot to deal with, as do so many teenagers today. She’s trying to navigate life apart from her steady boyfriend while taking advantage of an opportunity to study in the elephant conservation program with Clara Smith, a well-respected conservationist and program director, plus worrying about her parents and their grief, as well as her own. She suffers from some self-esteem issues and the green-eyed monster when she compares herself with her stunning new best friend, Nadine. But aside from the pain over losing her brother in a terrorist attack, the beginning of her story mirrors many teenagers who spend summers in internships, navigating new relationships while missing old ones.

This is a definite strength of Green’s writing. She creates a main character and a situation that any reader could see themselves in. Plus, she writes about problems her readers will be familiar with: friend drama, boyfriend insecurities, fitting in at a new place, and following their passions.

Yael, though--out of nowhere, one routine day at Kruger while with her native guide Sipho--is thrown into the world of elephant poaching and the fear, violence, and greed surrounding this horrifying crime that takes place all too often in this animal’s native land. Yael tries to keep what she sees and experiences to herself because Sipho is afraid of losing his job; and they are both frightened of the men who use violence and intimidation to maim and kill elephants on the land that’s supposed to protect them.

Yael is full of anxiety over what to do and grief for these beautiful animals. Questions rack her mind: Should she share what happened to Sipho and her with her boyfriend? Does Clara know more than she’s letting on? What about Nadine? Who can she trust? She misses her brother and mourns her life before her exposure to the elephant poachers and the terrorist attack turned her world upside down.

Not only does the author tackle teenage issues and the elephant poaching epidemic in Africa, but Green also does an amazing job of exposing her readers to the culture of South Africa—both inside and outside of Kruger. The novel opens in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Yael staying with her aunt and uncle. Before her uncle drives her to Kruger, they stop by Rosebank, which her aunt describes as “a mall with a roof market on Sundays. Lovely crafts, jewelry, and live African music. A
real vibe.”

While at Rosebank amongst “energetic street dancers,” Yael is drawn to a British photographer who asks her, “Are you here to shop or do you want to learn something about South Africa?” When she enters his exhibit, she sees pamphlets about animal rights and views walls of photos of wildlife: waterbuck; Long-tailed Paradise Whydah (a fire-engine-rednecked bird with a bright yellow stomach, a black head, and a matching long, black tail); and an adult rhino with a horn removed “by conservationists.” And then she comes to the second wall with an exhibit of photos titled “Elephant Poaching.” Yael’s experience at the mall is a definite foreshadowing of what’s to come later in the novel.

“They kill them for their tusks, for their ivory,” Douglas says to her. “Most of the ivory finds its way to Asia in an organized and ruthless global trade, and some of it finds its way to people like him, who sell them as curios,” Douglas says, gesticulating his open hand in the direction of the curio stall. Yael glances toward the curio stall just as the furious stall owner stomps toward them.

From the beginning, Green does a fantastic job of exposing young adult readers to the controversy and complex issues of life in South Africa and gives them a glimpse of what Yael will be faced with during her program at Kruger.

While Green takes readers along on the journey, she writes beautiful description with a strong voice. Even if readers have never stepped foot in South Africa or any wildlife park, jungle, or forest, after reading No Entry, they will have a vivid picture of the setting. She uses all of her senses to expose readers to the sights, sounds, and smells of the places Yael lives in South Africa:

“The rain is slowing as Yael lies under her thin, cotton sheet listening to the drops hit the tin roof of the room she was meant to share with two university students, who are studying environmental filmmaking on a separate program. It turns out they’d both been delayed for a reason she didn’t catch and so far, she has the room to herself. She inhales and smells the heat rising from the ground after the downpour, insect repellant, and traces of dust. When she returns at lunch, she’ll blast the intense heat away with air conditioning.”

This book is not for the faint of heart—some of the author’s descriptions are intense, and she paints a realistic picture of what Yael experiences, while not making it too scary or mature for teenage readers. In an interview, Green said, “The truth is I believe less is more. There's no need to sensationalize the scenes. Elephant slaughter in plain language is enough. In addition, there's a sub-theme of terrorism in the novel because violence is universal. I purposely made the terrorist event happen in Canada because I want to get the message across that senseless violence doesn't just happen in Africa or the Middle East. That attitude might allow some of us to feel off the hook. It happens everywhere, and we all have to make sure we are part of the solution...”

In this excellent novel, readers will find themselves experiencing the joys and sorrows of Yael, who is just trying to recover from her recent family tragedy with an adventure in South Africa, and they will become her biggest champion, as she unravels who is behind the elephant poaching on protected land and why anyone would want to hurt such magnificient animals just for money.

To purchase No Entry as an ebook, please click here.

Margo L. Dill is a children's and young adult author, works as managing editor for WOW! Women On Writing, and teaches a new class for middle-grade and young adult writers that starts March 31, where writers receive instruction and critique! Check out the syllabus here. There are still spots left.  


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2 Comments:

Blogger Gila Green said...

Thank you so much, Margo. I'm so pleased you enjoyed No Entry and Stormbird appreciates any support.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

No problem, Gila! I love your writing and Yael's story.

1:27 PM  

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