West Girls by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

$32.99

‘I chose the jagged rocks, the broken bones, the spattered brains. I chose beauty. I’d choose it again.’

Luna Lewis is white. But her friends aren’t, nor are her brothers, nor her one-time Princess of Indonesia-finalist stepmother. After transforming from pudgy preteen to ‘exotic’ beauty, Luna reinvents herself as ‘Luna Lu’ and takes her ticket out of the most isolated city on earth. However, as her international modelling career approaches its expiry date, Luna must grapple with what she’s sacrificed – and who she’s become – in her mission to conquer the world.

Featuring an intersecting cast of glamour-hungry public schoolgirls, WAGs, mining heiresses, backpacker-barmaids, and cosmetic nurses, West Girls examines beauty, race, class divisions, and social mobility in Australia’s richest state. It’s also a devastating catalogue of the myriad, inventive ways in which women love and hurt one another.

West Girls shows us a sordid, self-regarding, and shiny world of schoolgirls and supermodels, and in any other lesser writer’s hands this would be straight parody, but Woollett’s extraordinary talent is to make the “real” more grotesque than the satire, and to infuse every sentence with her poet’s vision and every character with a true melancholy and flawed humanity.’
-Alice Pung, author of One Hundred Days

‘The beginning teases us with fast-paced, colourful snapshots of culturally diverse characters and scenes- mother-daughter adventures, unconventional family models, teen politics, and preoccupation with appearances. As we read further, however, the story gets more unsettling. West Girls dissects the idea of beauty – Indah, as the protagonist’s stepmother’s name suggests – at the intersection of power, privilege, and exploitation- who’s exploiting and who’s being exploited? Woollett takes the theme of ‘becoming’ to the darker side; whilst subverting assumptions of fixed identities, she poses uneasy questions around cultural appropriation, racially and sexually structured gaze under capitalism, and disciplined bodies.’
-Intan Paramaditha, author of The Wandering and Apple and Knife

‘What a talent! It’s rare indeed to find a book this intelligent and this wickedly addictive. West Girls is dark as a mining magnate’s soul, cackle-out-loud funny, and so smart it stings. Ah-mazing!’
-Emily Bitto, author of Wild Abandon and The Strays