REVIEW and EXCERPT
Future Leaders of Nowhere
by Emily O'Beirne
Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O'Beirne has just been released. You can read my review and an excerpt. This review opportunity is brought to you by YA Bound Book Tours.
Future Leaders of Nowhere is a contemporary LGBTQ YA story for older readers about what happens when two natural leaders are pitted against each other in a leadership game while on camp in the Australian bush. Future Leaders is about friendship and romance, and about learning when to take charge and when to let go.
"Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor."
"Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you."
Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.
Soon they both realize that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.
Praise for the Book
"I loved the diversity of the characters, which reflects the diversity of Australia and the world at large. And finally, I loved how well everyone got along. While there was one character who stirred the pot unnecessarily, this was a group of overachieving teens and it showed. Their strengths weren’t all the same, but they learned how to complement each other. I highly recommend Future Leaders of Nowhere ..." ~ Amazon Customer
"The author’s characters are multidimensional and engaging. The reader gets to glimpse into the minds of the two main characters, Willa and Finn, from their perspective. It is interesting to see how they evolve, not only with each other, but their friends. Aside from the problems they face in the game, Willa and Finn have an added burden dealing with their own family problems. The author brilliantly weaves these characters emotions into realistic dialogue and relationships. I haven’t read a book this uplifting about teenagers in a long time. Needless to say, I highly recommend it." ~ Roe
"Finn and Willa find themselves drawn to each other and I found the effect this had went far beyond just the two of them. The writing was insightful and real and delved into their lives at home as well as at camp. I thoroughly enjoyed it." ~ Kitty Kat
I really liked this book. It was engaging and I didn't want to put it down. The characters and the setting are fully realized and felt real." ~ Jabo
"It was a great story with characters who confront issues important to all of us. [...] It’s a great story and I would recommend it to readers of all ages." ~ LF123
Groups of high achievers from different schools attend a month-long Future Leaders camp in a place they dub Camp Nowhere, making them the Future Leaders of Nowhere. Sixteen-year-old Finn Harlow sees it as a chance to take a break from her life and her parent's marital problems. Finn gets voted the leader of her school group. She finds herself strangely drawn to Willa, the only other girl leader. As deals are struck, alliances made and broken both on the playing field and in real life, these young leaders learn the skills they'll need to survive in the real world.
This is a wonderful coming-of-age story with a sweet romance between two young women trying to figure out who they are. Told from the point-of-view of first Finn and then Willa, it's interesting to see how the girls' perceptions of each other are so different from how they perceive themselves. I love the Australian language, the Aussie food references (like Tim Tams and Twisties), and bush camp setting (I can practically smell the eucalypts and hear the cockatoos); it's a rare treat.
Future Leaders of Nowhere is a smart, interesting book and an immensely satisfying read. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, All the Ways to Here, coming Autumn 2017.
Warnings: coarse language, LGBT themes.
Some of My Favorite Lines
"Wet, green paddocks stretch out on either side as far as she can see, and the horizon is a grassy nothingness, dotted with cows or sheep or some other kind of four-legged burger filler."
"... she stops and tips her face to the sun, caught up in some sort of ultraviolet reverie, before she drops to the ground with her book. She looks so light and content, a world away from the stiff-backed girl of last night. Finn wishes she felt like that, instead of jagged and misplaced."
"... she might be vaguely attracted to him, in some kind of benign, cute, funny-boy, sure-it’s-possible kind of way. But she also knows he doesn’t give her that feeling. That exquisite, painful sensation that you can never really describe. Shouldn’t she be chasing that?"
"She somehow manages to be utterly familiar and a total surprise at the same time."
"'I’ll always rescue you.' Willa says." [Picture Willa and Finn lying on a blanket, holding hands under the stars.]
"... she knows what it’s like to have your problems take up all the room inside you. How sometimes, just when you think you’ve pushed them back to manageable size—showed them their fair share of space—they burst out again, filling you up."
"Half an hour ago, they were a supernova of lips and breath and hands through hair. Now they are silence."
"... she doesn’t have her person. She wonders what it’s like to have someone who likes you more than they like the rest of the world. Who’d choose you first. Who’d get impatient wanting to be near you when they couldn’t be. Someone you could call or message at any time of the day and night, and they’d always be happy that you did. It must be a good feeling."
"She loves rivers. They’re so furtive. They don’t announce themselves, noisy and vast, like the ocean. Sometimes they just flow, quietly wearing their groove. You could live a hundred metres from a river and never know if you didn’t look." [I can attest to this.]
"It’s a game modelled on the real world. And I’m sorry if I’m no more comfortable with being metaphorically inhumane than I am with being literally inhumane."
"Willa was just clinging to the hope that while the game version of them falls apart, the version of them that clings to each other on a rock in the sunshine could still be allowed to exist."
"... while Willa knows everything that she has ever read in a textbook, when it comes to the simplicity of two people being together, she’s learning she knows nothing."
About the Author
Thirteen-year-old Emily woke up one morning with a sudden itch to write her first novel. All day, she sat through her classes, feverishly scribbling away (her rare silence probably a cherished respite for her teachers). And by the time the last bell rang, she had penned fifteen handwritten pages of angsty drivel, replete with blood-red sunsets, moody saxophone music playing somewhere far off in the night, and abandoned whiskey bottles rolling across tables. Needless to say, that singular literary accomplishment is buried in a box somewhere, ready for her later amusement.
From Melbourne, Australia, Emily was recently granted her PhD. She works part-time in academia, where she hates marking papers but loves working with her students. She also loves where she lives but travels as much as possible and tends to harbor crushes on cities more than on people.
Living in an apartment, Emily sadly does not possess her dream writing room overlooking an idyllic garden of her creation. Instead, she spends a lot of her time staring over the screen of her laptop and out the window at the somewhat less pretty (but highly entertaining) combined kebab stand/carwash across the road.