Sarah Rose
Sarah Rose
Writer. Book reviewer. Aus YA nerd.
Sarah Rose

Sarah Rose McKenzie

I'm a writer and book nerd currently based in Wollongong, New South Wales. I love reading and writing about fierce queers, radical women and marginalised identities. I’m also partial to herbal tea, misty oceans and rabbit cuddles.

In 2016, I studied Honours in creative writing, specialising in contemporary realist Australian Young Adult (YA) fiction (known as Aus YA or Oz YA). Drawing on my experiences, I wrote a novella and thesis about growing up queer in a small coastal town.

This website is a space where I share my published creative work. It’s also a platform for celebrating diverse Aus YA. In my book blog, I publish regular(ish!) reviews of Aus YA stories that have inspired me, and hopefully they will inspire you, too. Happy reading!



Soul Placeis a short story about female friendships, first love and growing up bi in an idyllic coastal town.

I’m delighted and humbled to say that ‘Soul Place’ was one of the top 10 finalists in a short story competition called ‘The Long Way Home’. In December last year, all the shortlisted entries were published in a beautiful book called The Long Way Home 2018 - Stories From The Clarence Valley, edited by Erin Brady and Claire Aman. The book features writers with a connection to the Clarence Valley region in northern New South Wales, with illustrations by local artist Yohanna Dent.

I’m so proud to have been a part of this project! You can check out the PDF version of ‘Soul Place’ here.

‘she is’ is a free verse poem about girlhood and growing up. It also deals with mental health issues and trauma, so please take care when reading it.

I was so excited that ‘she is’ was featured in Baby Teeth, a Wollongong-based literary and arts journal, July 2019. I love this journal and highly recommend checking it out!

Baby Teeth currently has submissions open for an exciting new anthology of emerging writers from the Illawarra and South Coast. Submit before 31st August!

‘a dirty word’ is an experimental, bi-fierce poem published in a local Wollongong zine, Bi/pan feels, compiled by Andie Yates, April 2019.

‘in between words’ is the companion poem to ‘a dirty word’, published in the University of Wollongong’s Tertangala - Gender and Sexuality Issue, October 2018.


About AUS YA

The light she portrayed in that story was special: the world was brighter and more marvellous and more...everything, the way it is sometimes when you look at the colours in the sky at dusk and think ‘I am in another world’.
— Joanne Horniman, 'A Charm of Powerful Trouble'

I’m very excited to discuss Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories, an incredible new anthology edited by Michael Earp! Kindred is the first of its kind in Australia – a collection of short stories featuring purely queer Australian YA authors.

The characters and their worlds are dazzling: from young Jem’s exposure to ableist queer spaces; to Roxy and Ziggy’s gender-neutral dystopia; to Jack and Paul’s family confrontations and wedding plans… Read on!

This month, I’m delighted to bring you a review of the newly-released Prisoncorp by Marlee Jane Ward (published by Seizure/Brio Books, April 2019), which follows on from Ward’s dystopian YA novellas, Welcome to Orphancorp and Psynode.

Mirii has found herself imprisoned – for real this time – and must survive the hell that is ‘Corrections Co’, a women’s facility in the searing desert… Read on!

So it’s been a while … welcome to my first book review for 2019! For January/February, I decided to write a combined review of Welcome to Orphancorp (2015) and Psynode (2017), two awesome sci-fi punk novellas by Marlee Jane Ward.

Welcome to Orphancorp is a gritty, gut-wrenching story of survival, friendship and enduring love in the face of brutality… Read on!

This month, I’m delighted to be looking at Hate Is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub, a Lebanese-Australian writer from Western Sydney.

Seventeen-year-old Sophie is the epitome of a “good Lebanese girl”, yet she struggles to reconcile her feminist beliefs with her father’s expectations… Read on!

For September/October, I decided to do something a little different! I was lucky to have the opportunity to chat with Sam Webb, a local Thirroul writer, about her self-published Aus YA fantasy novel, Ocean Whirled: a thrilling tale of undersea adventures, friendship and harmony between all living things. Read on!

Untidy Towns by Kate O’Donnell is wickedly funny and touching tale of finding yourself in unexpected places – literally so, as seventeen-year-old Adelaide (Addie) flees her boarding school in Melbourne to return to her hometown of Emyvale, in rural Victoria.

Slow-paced and observant, Untidy Towns reflects on life’s simple pleasures and in-between moments, like curling up with a new book… Read on!

This month, I’m going to explore a bewitching story by one of my all-time favourite Australian YA authors. Her name is Joanne Horniman, she hails from northern New South Wales, near where I grew up - and she’s amazing. Did I mention she’s amazing?!

A Charm of Powerful Trouble is one of Horniman’s lesser-known novels, which draws you into a darkly beautiful world of sisterly love, secret desires and the unravelling of family ties... Read on!

To commemorate Sorry Day (26th May) and celebrate Reconciliation Week (27th May - 3rd June), my book review for May focuses on Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, a fantastic new anthology published in 2018 by Black Inc. The anthology was edited by Anita Heiss, a well-known Aboriginal writer and comedian. Read on!

Welcome to my new book blog! Each month, I will review an awesome Aus YA book that has lingered in my thoughts long after the last page.

So here goes! For my first book review, there could be no other choice but the groundbreaking Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, published in May 2017 by HarperCollins and edited by Danielle Binks. Read on!



Some of my commentary and articles about community and culture



Are you an Aus YA fan? Do you have book recommendations, comments or questions? Are you interested in collaborating? I’d love to hear from you!


Instagram: sarahrose_writer