after leaving highschool, family dramas and hometown adelaide behind, andrew embraces the idea of byron bay and the culture that comes with it whole heartedly. he scores half a bag of outdoor almost straight off the plane, punches on with his mates, gets kicked out of the apartment, and moves in with some buskers he meets at a party all in the first two chapters. what was going to be a week at schoolies becomes an extended stay in the dodgier side of byron, and life in general.
andrew was an intriguing character. i couldn't entirely work him out which certainly kept things interesting. he is a concert pianist (or to his friends, concert penis) and seemed like the good side of the tracks boy playing at being bad. however when he buys the weed he notes that it 'looked a bit light', a sentence that marks him as a regular smoker, or at least someone used to weighing bags of weed, implying he had a bit of street smart, or thought he did. but towards the end of the book, as the drug references get more prolific, and the consequences more serious, he is very relatable as the kid in WAY over his head. he was also a bit of a dickhead to his mate benny, and while it was pretty mean, it was also very relatable (even though i wish it wasn't, i like to think i'm not a dickhead...).
i wasnt a huge fan of heidi, andrew's love interest. i've known people like her, and the term 'fuckin crazy bitch' was the one used most often. i know that the love interest is often a fairly damaged character in a lot of ya books, but heidi also came across as a nasty person, manipulative, judgemental and ignorant (although very good at the drums) and in a huge amount of denial. i liked andrew less due to his shit taste in women.
there was a lot of sex, a lot of drugs, and a lot of well described music scenes. ducrou really captured the wavy uncontrollable feeling of playing music in a group, badly or brilliantly, and these scenes were some of my favourites from the book. i also loved the descriptions of being on the road, with different bits of australia flashing past in the bus windows.
i think ducrou is going to be one to watch in the future. 'the byron journals' felt authentic and gritty, and he managed to avoid cliches for the most part, something not always easily done when it comes to ya novels set in byron bay. recommended, but not to anyone under 14.