Hipchicks went to war

| 10 May , 2009 | Reply

Guest editor

Guest Editor, Emma Andrews

I was on my way home from Hawaii on a 10 hour flight when I first picked up this little gem When the Hipchicks went to war by Pamela Rushby.  I must admit, I was a little chuffed to be reading the work of an Australian children\’s book Author.  I absolutely love Australian children\’s literature.  Pamela did not disappoint me with her poignant and thoughtful book about a young girl who is thrust from her adolescent life in Brisbane to the deadly and violent scenes of the Vietnam War.


Kathy is a vibrant 16 year old girl who attends a Catholic convent school with her best friend Cheryl.  While Cheryl is smart and on her way to becoming the school captain, Kathy is not the academic kind and leaves school to pursue a career as a hairdresser.  She soon becomes disenchanted with her life and is keen to break free from her large chaotic family and boring job.

Kathy hears about an audition for an entertainment troupe and before she knows it, she\’s chosen as part of a performing trio to entertain Australian troops in Vietnam.  Kathy\’s world takes a nasty turn as her best friend Cheryl turns on her for supporting the war.  She feels betrayed, but knows that the adventure she is about to go on will breathe new life into her.  She might even run into her brother who\’s off fighting in the war.

Kathy, Gaynor and Layla are innocent girls who soon become accustomed to the horrors of war.  They must not only support each other but also find the courage within themselves to hold the hands of dying soldiers.  The girls learn to survive in this harsh landscape, and love eventually shines through the ever present scent of death. It is only when tragedy strikes that Kathy\’s life comes crashing down.

I loved the way Pamela brought together the real experiences of women who had performed in Vietnam and her own travel experiences to develop this wonderfully descriptive teenage novel.  I felt touched by her ability to take you into the lives of young women, the soldiers and the realities of war through the perspective of a 16 year old girl.  I highly recommend When the Hipchicks went to War if you want a quick and easy read and one that will make you feel fulfilled.  Make sure you pass this one on to your teenage niece or daughter!

Pamela Rushby was born in Queensland, and has worked in advertising, as a pre-school teacher, and as a writer and producer of educational television, audio and multimedia. She now freelances as a writer, scriptwriting and multimedia writing/designing. Pamela has had over 100 books published. She has two children and two grandchildren, and lives in Brisbane with her husband.

Available now: Hachette Australia RRP: $16.99

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