FacebookGoogle PlusInstagramLinkedInTwitter
Presented by State Library Victoria

Review: 'Untidy Towns' by Kate O'Donnell Taught Me A Lot About Myself

Hello Fellow Readerholics,

I recently read ‘Untidy Towns’ by Kate O’Donnell. I was sent a copy from UQP in exchange for an honest review so a massive thank you to them is in order!



Seventeen-year-old Adelaide is sick of being expected to succeed on other people’s terms. She knows she just has to stick it out at school for one more year and then she’ll be free. Instead, she runs away from her fancy boarding school back to her sleepy hometown to read and dream.

But there are no free rides. When Addie’s grandad gets her a job at the local historical society, she soon finds out that it’s dusty and dull, just like her new life. Things change when she starts hanging out with Jarrod, a boy who seems full of possibilities. But it turns out he’s as stuck as she is. And Addie realises that when you want something in life, you’ve actually got to do something about it.

A heartfelt tale about love, friendship and finding your own way



I’m one of those people that has essentially lived in a small town all of my life. We are about an hour out from Melbourne and we had one small shop, The General Store, it was the only shop in the whole suburb and it was closed down because of suspicious activity. I’m lucky enough to go to a school closer to the city and I often can’t help but wish I didn’t live in a small town. I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the streets compared to the empty silence of the road we live on. So when I read this book, and the main character had this urge to see more of the world, I understood. I got it so much because it articulated my thoughts better than I could have, and it gave me the words I wanted to say. It also, shockingly, romanticised living in a small town enough so that just maybe, it isn’t as bad as I once thought. Don’t you worry though, I still want to travel and live in a city at some stage.

In this book, nothing happens. It isn’t the end of the world and nobody is going to die.  It’s just life, in the meandering, essentially drama-less way. There’s something about that that reassures me. It made me feel not so bad about eventually going into year 12 and that if things don’t go to plan, my life probably won’t be a complete and utter disaster. The plot was relaxing and the talent of the writer really shone as it does when reading about the mundane is somewhat of a page turner.

The thing I loved most about this book was the characters. Each and every one of them was so full of life and I really liked a lot of them. Our protagonist, Adelaide, was someone that I really related to and I enjoyed being inside of her head while reading. There were so many experiences referenced there that were not only quintessential Australian experiences (primary school bush dances, anyone?) but also that were experiences or thoughts that I’ve had myself which made the novel feel a lot more personal. The side characters were also absolute joys. I really liked her friends and her family. They were all such pleasures to read about!

Another thing that I really liked was the romantic aspect. It was really very sweet and although I don’t really know why they got together, I feel like that was kind of the point. It wasn’t like that perfect, dreamlike relationship that I see a lot of in contemporary YA. It was flawed and mistakes were made. It was probably one of the more realistic portrayals I’ve seen in YA.


Overall, I really loved this bookend it means more to me than I ever could have hoped. I’m rating it a 4.8/5.


Your Favourite Bookworm




Wow, this sounds great! Also those bush dances...

21st Jul, 20

It is great! Sorry for being up what is likely a repressed memory for most of us 😂

21st Jul, 20

this book seems good! i'll add it to my reading list...

29th Jul, 20