Review: Alex by Tessa Duder

A photo of the book Alex by Tessa Duder

What is it?

Alex by Tessa Duder

First published 1987

A New Zealand, young adult (historical?) novel.

The Back Cover Blurb

Alexandra Archer is swimming to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rome. In the past year she has fallen in love and knows how it feels to lose.

Alex faces intense competition and will have to swim the race of her life to achieve her dream.

What I thought

I remember I must’ve been about 12 when a girl who I wouldn’t exactly call a friend was reading Alex. I know I was in the 10 to 12 range, because we were in the hall I went to for Girl Guides. I can see the scene so clearly. A book about a girl swimmer? Ugh, no thanks.

12 year old me was so wrong.

Actually, no. I don’t think 12 year old me would’ve liked this book. It didn’t have teenage brothers solving mysteries, or swords and sorcery, or a man who collected pigs. But 38 year old me did.

Crap, I’m old.

But I loved Alex (the character). She’s strong and driven and vulnerable. I loved how the story is split between chapters showing her thoughts during her final race and the lead-up to it. The writing style almost lost me in parts, because it’s very tell-y. Alex rambles on about her life, and sometimes I thought I’d actually like to see some of this stuff instead of just being told about it. But her narration is so charming, it didn’t turn me off the book.

I’m glad I finally read it, and I’d highly recommend it. Alex (the book) is a classic piece of New Zealand literature, and Alex (the character) is still relevant today.

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