There is something very comforting about reading a book set in the city in which you live. Or maybe that’s just me, considering there are very few novels set in Adelaide.

Rebecca Burton’s Beyond Evie is a deceptively sweet young adult novel. The story is told from the perspective of Year 11 student Charlotte writing to her former friend, Evie, giving Evie her thoughts on the time the girls were friends. It is made clear from the outset that the two girls are no longer friends and Charlotte is writing this with the wisdom of hindsight, and the novel gently tugs and toys with the reader as little by little what transpired between the two girls is revealed.

This novel is written without a single trace of a wasted word or even a wasted syllable, and ambles along, dragging the reader with it. Beyond Evie is Burton’s second novel, after her 2006 debut Leaving Jetty Road. As beautiful as the novel is, Burton builds and builds to the event which broke Charlotte and Evie’s friendship, and I was expecting a bigger revelation to occur than what eventuated. Despite the anticlimactic ending, I wasn’t sure the novel needed anything more than what Burton offered. The novel is about the time in Charlotte’s life when she knew Evie; it is about Charlotte’s feelings and recollections of that time and how she perceived and overcame this significant event in her life. I feel like it is detrimental to the novel to fault it for its anticlimactic ending, because who are we, as readers, to say that what eventuated was not a major event in Charlotte’s life, and that it was not satisfying enough as a reader?

I loved how carefully Burton chose to tell Charlotte’s story and not colour it with anything more than it needed. Beyond Evie took me through my city of Adelaide from Charlotte’s perspective as she allowed me to read her innermost secrets, showing the reader that while her friendship with Evie hurt her, she came out stronger in the end.

Published by Angus & Robertson, 2010

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