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As a member of the ‘Silver Creek’ alumni, I was blown away by Rebecca Starford’s memoir, Bad Behaviour. It centres around a year of her schooling spent in the Victorian bush, a cornerstone of the school’s education program. I attended the same campus 10 years prior to Starford, but there were many similarities and at times it was as though I was reading my own autobiography.

In terms of the bullying, as far as I’m aware it was never that bad when I was there and I remain unaware of issues with self-harming. And I won’t say bullying was non-existent, but I have to wonder whether a lot of what happened was just 14 year-old-girl stuff, rather than it being specific to the actual school. After all, who would ever want to be a teenager again? I for one wouldn’t!

So with that in mind, I wonder how close to the lives of other 14 year old girls Starford’s memoir aligns? Take away the outdoor setting and transpose it on to inner Melbourne or any Australian town and see what you think. Perhaps being sequestered away from urban life is the best place for girls that age to be?! I’ve heard many stories about other girls from both here and overseas and it’s generally accepted it’s a pretty harsh time of life.

Starford writes with such a fresh and crisp style you can’t help but race from page to page, wondering what’s going to happen next. I love the way she’s been able to dig so deeply into her memories and expose her own foibles as much as those of others – there is certainly no pushing of blame on to ‘Portia’, she equally accepts responsibility for her own actions.

As for the mirroring back of my own experiences at Silver Creek – you can add the chapel bell run (thankfully fully clothed back in my day, but detention consequences all the same), runs to the main road as punishment (no vehicle behind us though and if you mimed running the right way, it looked as though you were in full motion from afar) and the endless joy in keeping the wood burner going so everyone could partake of some hot water.

Have you read Bad Behaviour? What did you think? Would you ever be 14 again?!

PS Cover image via here