3 May 2024

Wagga author tackles loss and love and delivers plenty of laughs in 'The Unexpected Mess of it All'

| Chris Roe
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Wagga Wagga author Gabrielle Tozer with her latest young adult novel, <em>The Unexpected Mess of it All</em>.

Wagga Wagga author Gabrielle Tozer with her latest young adult novel, The Unexpected Mess of it All. Photo: Chris Roe.

Wagga Wagga author Gabrielle Tozer has just released her fifth novel for young adults (YA), The Unexpected Mess of it All, and she can’t wait to share it with her readers.

While the award-winning writer is excited to have another book out in the wild, she describes the process of delivering a new manuscript as “brutal every time”.

“When I was younger, I used to get extremely stressed when a book was about to come out because I think I was trying to control all the uncontrollable things, but with this one, I’m the most chill I’ve ever been with a book release,” she laughed.

“These days I know that I’ve done the best I can. I’m really proud of it and I hope my readers love it because it was an enjoyable one to write.”

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The Unexpected Mess of it All covers six days of the life of 18-year-old Jamila Dakhoul. She’s in Year 12 in a regional town and just wants to escape her life.

“Her parents are fighting all the time, she’s had some really big friendship fallouts and the worst part is that there was a freak house fire at her family’s property. They’ve lost their home and they’re living in a caravan in the backyard of their family friends,” explained Gabrielle.

“One of those family friends is a guy she’s known since she was born, Billy Radcliffe and he’s one of the people she’s fallen out with.

“She’s just done. She’s over it. And while it sounds like it’s going to be a tragedy, it’s not.”

Along with the teen angst and a fraught will-they-won’t-they romance, the book delivers more than its fair share of laughs.

“There’s plenty of humour and banter and a romance that underpins the whole story, but essentially, it’s Jamila’s personal story and shows how much your life can change in six days,” she said.

Gabrielle Tozer's new young adult novel <em>The Unexpected Mess of it All</em> hit the shelves this week.

Gabrielle Tozer’s new young adult novel The Unexpected Mess of it All hit the shelves this week. Photo: Supplied.

As the title suggests, the book explores the human experience and offers hope to teenage readers as they navigate the difficult road towards adulthood.

“I think that in many of my novels, there is this idea that we are all just struggling through it and that’s OK,” she said.

“Some people are just better at hiding it and online or within their friendship groups, they can pretend that everything’s all shiny and sparkly, when inside, they’re struggling.

“Mostly I want my readers to feel seen. I want them to be entertained and I want them to go on this journey with Jamila and all the ups and downs that I put her through and to really feel something.”

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As a mother of young children, Gabrielle said finding the time to write had been challenging but she found an upside to taking her time.

“It took longer to write but I feel like it allowed the ideas to marinate a little bit more and some of the plot problems would unknot themselves without me having to force the process,” she reflected.

“It’s felt quite organic and enjoyable.”

The Unexpected Mess of it All hit the shelves this month (May) and Gabrielle is gearing up for a busy few weeks visiting libraries and bookstores and will appear at the Sydney Writers Festival at the end of May.

The official Wagga launch will take place with Collins Booksellers at the Wagga Library on Saturday 11 May at 2 pm.

You can keep up with Gabrielle through her website and pick up a copy of The Unexpected Mess of it All at your nearest bookshop.

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