The Other Side

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By: Sinead Dalton

Teenage years; for some it is said to be the happiest times of our lives but for many it can feel like a dark bottomless pit. While it seems a little dramatic, somehow I can almost hear older generations claim the youth have it carefree today. No bills, no mortgages or kids to provide for, “they don’t know how lucky they have it.”  While this might sound familiar it might make you wonder what happened to those whose youth was somewhat of a fight for survival and acceptance.

Fly, the new novel written by Ann Witherall is an exciting rollercoaster ride through the punk scene that is embedded into the walls of Melbourne and St. Kilda. Laced with the darker aspects of life such as drugs, sexuality and pure rock, it conveys to the reader the harsh reality of life as a teenager and the emotional mentality of those on the outside.

Growing up, there was always that group of girls or boys who ruled those precious years. To wear the wrong item of clothes, to tear yourself away from what was in fashion, to believe in something other than what was popular, could leave you in a very difficult position. For years Hollywood itself has made its fortune from the typical way teenagers act. Superbad, Mean Girls, Clueless are just some examples highlighting the divisions created. There were the jocks versus the nerds, the cool kids against the outcasts, those who were popular and those who simply were trying to figure out what life was all about (which many of us still struggle with!)

Do you remember those days? A time when we wished for school to disappear, parents to stop nagging us and life to just let us be and accept us for who we were and not what we did! I’m sure most of us have brushed those memories under the carpet, eager to forget but life and society still remains our overall judge, ready to sentence us as soon as we begin to be true to our own thoughts, beliefs or feelings!

So what was it that inspired Ann to write this story?  Well when speaking with her, what struck me the most was her true sense of experience; “the feeling of alienation, feeling of what is the point of tomorrow? That is the drive of the story that is what pushed me to do it more than everything else.” This story was not just some tale, copying the idea of a small child and the big school bully; it is something much more. It is a fictional story sewn together with truth and fear, venturing many subjects that still remain somewhat of a taboo topic in today’s society. Even though the story is set in the 80’s it conveys issues many women and men go through such as depression and teenage suicide.

While Fly is Ann’s first self-published novel she has really pinpointed the dark side of what can accompany youth  and makes us realise “after all the partying, the feelings will always be there.” It is an epic revival to the punk scene of Melbourne.

On March 22nd the opening night conveyed its success. Many turned out to not only to congratulate Ann but thank her for uncovering and exploring topics which relate to so many. If you missed this event you can find out more about Fly on Ann’s website: www.annwitherall.com. It can also be purchased on amazon.com.

The punk era was a time of rebellion not only at the system and of the conformity of life but it was stamp on history as it allowed the individual to express what they themselves stood for.  This book is a carefree and intimate discovery of sex, drugs, rock and roll and the question everyone asks themselves at one point in their lives: who am I?

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