Book Review: The Truth & Addy Loest by Kim Kelly

The Truth & Addy Loest…

About the Book:

Truth is not a destination – it’s a magical ride.

Addy Loest is harbouring a secret – several, in fact. Dedicated overthinker, frockaholic and hard-partyer, she’s been doing all she can to avoid the truth for quite some time.

A working-class girl raised between the Port Kembla Steelworks and the surf of the Illawarra coast, Addy is a fish out of water at the prestigious University of Sydney. She’s also the child of German immigrants, and her broken-hearted widower dad won’t tell her anything about her family’s tragic past.

But it’s 1985, a time of all kinds of excess, from big hair to big misogyny, and distractions are easy. Distractions, indeed, are Addy’s best skill – until one hangover too many leads her to meet a particular frock and a particular man, each of whom will bring all her truths hurtling home.

Told with Kim Kelly’s incomparable warmth and wit, The Truth & Addy Loest is a magical trip through shabby-chic inner-city Sydney, a tale of music and moonlight, literature and love – and of discovering the only story that really matters is the one you write for yourself.

My Thoughts:

This is Kim Kelly’s second contemporary release – I refuse to consider the mid 1980s as historical fiction, no, definitely not yet! – and I have to say, she’s hit a homerun yet again. Not all authors can easily walk from genre to genre, era to era, but it seems for Kim that nothing is out of reach. I think this comes down to the story, the essence of Kim’s work. She’s not writing about an event, with the character’s lives playing out in front of an epic backdrop. Rather, she’s telling a yarn, a story that’s playing out in familiar neighbourhoods with familiar people; a slice of Australia, served up with both the bitter and the sweet accompaniments. Nevermore has this been true than with The Truth & Addy Loest. Before we get deep and meaningful, I just want to point out that Kim’s natural wit is in top form throughout this novel.

‘The Jay Club was Sydney Uni’s marijuana club, where the coolest of the cool hung out collectively growing their hair in lieu of doing anything socially useful.’

The beating heart of this story is Addy Loest herself, young and on the cusp of the rest of her life, yet hopelessly lost and searching desperately for those elusive answers to the questions asked by all intergenerational migrant children at some point in their lives: ‘Who am I and where did I come from? Where is my home? Where do I belong?’ Addy will be familiar to many Australians who are now in their 40s and above, whose parents and grandparents migrated post WWII, leaving the pain and scars behind for a new life in a new sunshiny land. Many began again so completely that it’s as though their former selves ceased to exist once they stepped off that boat, but their reinvention in some cases reverberated down through the generations, so that their children and even grandchildren found themselves caught in an identity crisis, similar to that of Addy, where you’re neither here nor there, you’re a little bit other, but not entirely sure what that even means.

‘She was nothing – really. She was not a real Australian; she was not a real German. She was not a real Illawarra surfie chick; she was not a real Sydney University student. She fell between the cracks of everything, and it was desperately lonely there – everywhere.’

I’m not one for romance novels, but I do like a good love story – there is a difference, believe me! – and here in The Truth & Addy Loest is a tale of a beautiful love, of the grandest kind, just waiting to unfurl. It’s a little unconventional, with Addy fighting her inner critic all the way to the point where she comes to the realisation that not only does someone else love her, but that she’s also completely worthy of it. The close-knit family unit of Addy, her brother, and her father, was lovely; I enjoyed their interactions, from their father worrying about them to Addy and her brother bonding over their father worrying about them! There are plenty of social and political issues tightly woven into this novel, but with the precision of a master storyteller, Kim packages it all up and delivers it with aplomb.

‘She saw him swipe off a tear with the heel of his hand, smiling again – and it was there, right there, she finally let herself fall completely and irretrievably. She fell right to the garden floor, she landed softly on the tender grass, inside that loving, laughing tear.’


Thanks is extended to the author, Kim Kelly, for providing me with a copy of The Truth & Addy Loest for review.

About the Author:

Kim Kelly is the much-loved author of eleven novels, including the acclaimed Wild Chicory and The Blue Mile. With distinctive warmth and lyrical charm, her work explores Australia, its history and people, its quirks and contradictions, from colonial invasion times to the present, and from the red-dirt roads of the outback to its glittering shores. She is also a well-known book editor and reviewer. Originally from Sydney, today Kim lives on a small but endlessly inspiring patch of paradise in the central west of New South Wales.

First Chapter Preview of The Truth & Addy Loest: here

Released in paperback, ebook and Bolinda audiobook 1st February 2021

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