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Chasing Charlie Duskin

Author:  Cath Crowley

Charlie Duskin is running. Fleeing from failures and memories and friends who have given up on her. And she's not only running, she's chasing things - like a father who will talk to her, friends who don't think she's as invisible as a piece of cling wrap, and an experience with a boy in which she doesn't look like an idiot.

But Charlie Duskin is about to have the best summer of her life. She's about to meet a friend who'll change her forever. She's about to fall in love. She just doesn't know it yet.

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Jul 26,2017

The book Chasing Charlie Duskin is a book written by Cath Crowley. It is her second novel, her first novel is The life and times of Gracie Faltrain. Chasing Charlie Duskin is about a girl named Charlie, who visits her Grandparents place yearly at Christmas time and stays there for the summer, and then she stays two weeks without her dad as he goes back to work.  Her mum dies when she was nice years old. Her dad has been mourning since and ignoring Charlie in the process.

At school Charlie is a gutless wonder. She’s always a step out of beat, uncoordinated and all too willing to let people walk all over her. Her best friend Dahlia is just starting to figure this out- and as a result, her and Charlie’s friendship is about to crash and burn over the summer holidays

Over the years of  Charlie staying at her grandparents house  she watches Rose, Luke and Dave some of the kids who live in her Grandparents town, pass by her Grandparents shop come in and out and occasionally talk to her.

Until one summer that is all about to change. As she hangs out with Rose, Luke and Dave. They take Charlie Dorkin ( they call her behind her back), to their favourite spots, like the river and they take her camping where she finds out that they had been calling her Charlie Dorkin.

Rose Butler is the girl who lives next door to Charlies Grandparents place. Her little hometown is like a toilet stop, a town you’ll pass through but never want to stay there. For years now, Rose has been watching Charlie ‘Dorkin’ breeze through her town always to end upon the freeway, going back and forth to the city and a better life. But this is all about to change this year as Rose has a scholarship for a school in the city.

Rose will get out of this town even if it means leaving her best friend Dave, and Boyfriend, Luke behind, even if she has to used Charlie to do it.  She’ll miss her favourite spots, the river and the falls. And the safety of shared history.

May 21,2012

Rose Butler and Charlie Duskin couldn’t be more different. 

Charlie lives in the city, with her dad. Her mum died when she was nine, and her dad has been mourning her ever since … and ignoring Charlie in the process. At school, Charlie is a gutless wonder. She’s always a step out of beat, uncoordinated and all too willing to let people walk all over her. Her best friend, Dahlia, is just starting to figure this out – and, as a result, her and Charlie’s friendship is crashing and burning over the summer holidays. 

Every Christmas Charlie and her dad return to his childhood town where he and Charlie’s mother fell in love. This time of year should be full of pine trees and celebration. Except this is the first year since Charlie’s grandmother passed away. The last person in the world to think Charlie was truly special, and now she has gone too. Her grandfather isn’t coping, and now Charlie is stuck with two men who can’t seem to come to grips with the absence of the women they loved. 

Rose Butler lives next door to Charlie’s grandparent’s house. Her little hometown is a toilet stop – someplace you pass through, but never want to stay. For years now, Rose has been watching Charlie ‘Dorkin’ breeze through her town – always to end up on the freeway, going back to the city and a better life. And this year, Rose might just go with her … because Rose has a scholarship burning a hole in her back pocket. A scholarship to a city school, and out of this dustbowl town. 

But Rose will miss her best friend, Dave, and boyfriend, Luke. She’ll miss the river and the falls, and the safety of shared history. 

Charlie would give anything to hang out with Rose, Luke and especially Dave. She’d love to feel like she belongs, just for a bit. And to feel wanted. She’d like to be part of a choir, instead of always singing solo. 

Rose will get out of this town. Even if it means using Charlie Dorkin to do it. 

‘Chasing Charlie Duskin’ is the beloved 2005 YA novel from Cath Crowley. 

I came to the Cath Crowley fan club a little late. I read ‘Graffiti Moon’ this year, and loved it. Now I’m back-tracking through Crowley’s previous books … and I really shouldn’t be surprised that ‘Chasing Charlie Duskin’ is as brilliant as I thought it would be. 

Charlie Duskin is a frustratingly beautiful character. She is walking wounded – having lost her mother at a young age, which also led to the disappearance of her father as he retreated into grief. Now Charlie is living with more heartache since the recent passing of her grandmother, which lumps her with another male who is not coping well with the death of his beloved wife. As a result of so much tragedy, Charlie is disarmingly negative about herself. She thinks she’s broken – clutzy and embarrassing, unable to talk to boys and utterly invisible. She thinks her best friend, Dahlia, lucked out in the friendship stakes, and is unsurprised when it appears their camaraderie is starting to dissolve. Charlie sings and plays guitar, but all her songs are about wanting to fit in but knowing she never will. 

Rose Butler, on the other hand, is a firecracker. She has lived in one place her whole life – with two boys who know her better than anyone else in the world. Her car-mad friend, Dave, and her boyfriend Luke. Rose loves these two - but she hates her town. She feels frustrated by her complacent parents, and their suffocating love. So when Rose is told that she has been awarded a city school scholarship, she keeps it a secret. She doesn’t want to be told she can’t go, and she doesn’t want to see the look on Luke’s face when she tells him she’s leaving. 

Rose and Charlie are heading for disaster when both of them (unknowingly and unwittingly) present the other with what they most want in the world. For Charlie, Rose represents everything she can’t be – confident, carefree and cool. For Rose, Charlie is her ticket out – and she intends to be sitting in the car with Dorkin when she and her dad breeze out of town and head into the city. 

Disaster is bound to ensue. 

Cath Crowley’s books are reading confectionery. Her lyrical words are gooey caramel that get stuck to the roof of your mouth so you can tongue them and savour the sweetness. She looks at the world through dizzying heights and candy-coloured spectacles – and I can’t get enough of her writing or her characters. 

Charlie Duskin was sublime. I just wanted to wrap her in a bear hug and whisper words of encouragement in her ear. She’s that kind of character – one you want to bundle off the page and bring home to make hot chocolate for. She’s beautiful and doesn’t know it, and that made her superb. 

Rose was equally charming and disarming. The book is told from both points of view – Charlie and Rose’s – and in the beginning, through Charlie’s eyes, I did frown down at Rose and her seemingly perfect life. But Crowley loves shades of grey, and Rose is just a gorgeously lost and nervous as Charlie is (even if she hides it better). 

The book is ultimately about the fragility of people, and giving a little kindness to watch them grow. The finale is a chest-swelling crescendo, and a fitting ‘Aha!’ moment for dear Charlie Duskin. 

We watch her walk into the spotlight she’s been hiding from most of her life. Sure, friendship is all about believing in someone so hard they believe it, too. Sure, it’s about trust. But if anyone hurts her tonight, it’s about ripping them apart with my bare hands and really enjoying it.

Cath Crowley is certainly an Aussie YA treasure. Her books take you down to the lowest lows (so that you find yourself crying on the train while reading) but then she makes it up to you when her characters soar (so that you do a little fist-pump on the same train ride home). I think that whenever Crowley puts fingers to keyboard, a little bit of magic happens … I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Sep 13,2011

Book Review-Chasing Charlie Duskin

A young teenage girl lost in the steps of others. Chasing from what she has lost and running from what she doesn’t want to remember. She is invisible to others and tries to be the same but stands out for being different. She is always alone with no one to talk to. Little does she know that love is on the way and friendship.

She has lost all she owns and has no one to talk to. She just needs a friend who will stand by her side. Her only real friend is Dahlia but this friendship did not last long because Charlie was trying to be someone she wasn’t and Dahlia did not agree with how she acted. Charlie tries so hard to fit in but whatever she does is always wrong, she never seems to get things right.

What can I say this book was just ‘Amazing'. This book is touching, sweet and hilarious. This book is definitely a book I would recommend to teenagers around the age of 12-16 years old. I rate this book 8/10. It is a book about a young teenage girl trying to find her way onto the right path so she can fix up or in some cases forget what she has left off.

Mar 15,2011

What can I say except WOW. I was completely absorbed from the first page (well actually the quotes on the back got me first) and read it in one sitting. Cath Crowleys' words flow so well, they are like a warm blanket wrapped around you in the middle of winter. They are comfort. This is a funny, beautifully written novel that will leave you desperate for anything else this fantastic author has written.

"There was this beat under my skin, a little disco weaving through me. That's how it is when I'm alone and playing the guitar, but that's never how it is in a crowd."

Rose and Charlie are both wonderful, real characters. They have hopes, fears and big hearts but their personalities are very different. Rose is trying not to suffocate in the small town she has grown up in and she will do anything to escape. Half the time she is rebelling, the other half she is the perfect student.

Charlie is a quiet, music-loving girl who is yet to come out of her shell. All she needs is a little confidence and friends who won't laugh at and ignore her. Her father no longer notices her and is a shadow of his former self. She talks to both her mother and grandmother in her head, taking advice from those she knows loved her. She spends her time writing songs and playing her guitar for no one but herself, scared of the rejection that she is sure will follow. As an added bonus for us readers, Crowley includes the lyrics that Charlie writes throughout the book.

Charlie and Rose's friendship develops slowly but is one where each girl realises the other is not how they always perceived them and they find they have someone they can really talk to.

Charlie's relationship with Dave should also be mentioned. For years, both watched the other from afar. Dave is caring and loyal and he never shared the same views towards Charlie that Rose and Luke had. This summer, they actually make small, embarrassed efforts towards asking the other out and they really are so sweet together. It's really cute watching them dance around each other until one of them actually finds some courage.

Go and find this book. Now.

Feb 18,2011
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anonymous (not verified)

If there is one word that encapsulates A Little Wanting Song - it would be delicate.  Crowley has a light and elegant touch that weaves its way around the reader and tiptoes on their consciousness.  Even more remarkable is that this deftness crosses two individuals perspectives and still manages to give two distinctly unique teen voices.  Both girls are restless, wanting what the other has and having no means in which to pursue it. 

Charlie's gone through some rough times and it just keeps coming at her like a freight train.  Most authors would choose then to make their protagonist retreat inward but Charlie starts her journey in establishing a place for herself in an outward sense.  Instead of whining, she expresses her feelings in well crafted song lyrics that pepper the chapters.  In wanting to be visible, in pursing connections with others, Charlie finds inner strength and confidence.  In her songs she finds freedom to let her thoughts and feelings tumble out.

Rose is a different kettle of fish.  She desperately wants to escape the world that Charlie wants so dearly.  The setting is all Rose as she colours it with stories of her childhood friendship with the prickly Luke and affable Dave.  Her uncommunicative relationship with her mother both mirrors and contrasts to that of Charlie and her father - parent and child separated by grief, disappointment and what is not conveyed. 

If Charlie is the heart of this expressive story then Rose it its eyes.  That is not to say that either of them can be pigeonholed but they do bring different elements to the story.  Elements that allow them to round out one another, question the integrity of their motives and to push themselves and the story to a deeper level.  The character development and overall narrative is so real, so gradual that you don't even notice as it washes over you.  It is seamless storytelling. Every character has clear intent and direction, even if they prefer to stand still.  With two perspectives it can be easy to become lazy with supporting characters but Crowley uses the perspectives to interlace, to fill the character in to a degree that you could touch them.

Cath Crowley has constructed an outstanding novel here.  She has demonstrated that storytelling in YA can be gentle and still pack a powerful punch.

Jun 12,2008
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anonymous (not verified)

A girl named Charlie Duskin. Charlie's mum died when she was quite young and her grandma died recently, and she is shy and unsure of herself. She has a friend, Dalia, but Dalia becomes friends with Charlie's enemy. Then, when she goes to stay with her grandpa over the school holidays, she makes friends with Rose, who up until then had not wanted anything to do with her...

The best part of this book was...
The way Cath mixes unexplainable sadness with humor, and still has room for an awesome storyline! This is a book you can really relate to.
This book is similar to...
Anything for teenagers that has humor in it, and definitely any other books by Cath Crowley, or maybe Sue Lawson.
The best place to read this book is...
eating something yummy while curled up in someplace comfortable.
The soundtrack of this book should be...
Something with quirky lyrics, but a sort of sad melody.


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