“And I feel the anger deep inside of me as I begin to understand the notion – the idea of being proud of who you are in a world that tells you to be ashamed; brave enough to be seen when people wish you were invisible.”
If I Tell You tells the story of Seventeen-year-old Alex Summers who lives in the small town of Two Creeks, and is carrying a secret that she fears daily will be discovered. Alex knows she is gay, has known for years – but in her small, claustrophobic, bigoted town, she cannot see a future in which she can safely and comfortably come out to friends and family.
When Phoenix Stone, the daughter of a famous musician arrives in a cloud of gossip and rumour, Alex is intrigued. Talk of Phoenix being a lesbian, and the way in which the locals speak of her, has Alex sensing a potential friend (or something more), while also confirming her fears of the homophobic attitudes that may be turned on her.
Author Alicia Tuckerman grew up in rural Australia in a place not too dissimilar to Two Creeks and it shows in the vibrant descriptions. She has drawn a cast of flawed, loving and at times, very funny, deeply Australian characters – Alex’s world in If I Tell You, will be immediately familiar to readers.
Complex and confronting issues of homophobia and bigotry are navigated delicately in If I Tell You, and at times it can make for an uncomfortable read, but Tuckerman does not shy away from depicting the deep hurt and isolation that can occur. Clearly, the author is writing from personal experience, which adds weight and impact to the reading experience.
There has been much discussion of the importance of LGBTQI representation in young adult literature, and If I Tell You is one of the finer examples encountered in a while. Powerful, deeply affecting and yet hopeful, this book celebrates the bravery that it takes to live an authentic life, and explores the struggle often associated with the coming out experience, with a gentle and loving touch.
Alicia Tuckerman is a new voice on the Australian YA scene, and If I Tell You, announces she is a talent to watch. Her lyrical prose and tightly constructed narrative promise much and we look forward to what comes next.
About the Author
Alicia Tuckerman is a driving force for young LGBT voices within Australia. Raised in rural NSW before she left home at the age of sixteen, she accepted a position to study at the Hunter School of Performing Arts.
Described as having an overactive imagination as a child, she recalls writing stories her entire life. Alicia attributes surviving her teenage years to the comfort, release and escape writing offered and she hopes to inspire the next generation of readers and writers to embrace their true passions.
Alicia was inspired to write If I Tell You after finding a lack of YA novels featuring two central lesbian characters. She draws on her life experiences to explore the joys, triumphs and cruelties of modern day adolescence and considers there is no fantasy world she could create that is more terrifyingly beautiful than the one we’re expected to live in.
Alicia is a Law Clerk and now lives in the Swan Valley region of Perth with her wife and two children, where she does most of her writing in the small hours before the kids wake up, or on her daily commute to the office!