Walker Books, 2020
Secondary, Upper Primary
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Sally Murphy is one of Australia’s best verse novelists for young people. This, her fourth, free verse novel features three main characters, each alienated in different ways. The major themes are making connections, experiencing new friendships, overcoming loneliness, grieving and isolation. Sound heavy? Not at all! Each theme is treated with sensitivity and lightness, leading readers to understand others’ perspectives while gaining insights into themselves. The line and grey wash graphics by illustrator, Sarah Davis, effectively reflect emotions and content.
Blake, Jolene and Amed alternate in revealing their personal lives and thoughts. Blake is an Aussie Rules football player, but now with a broken arm, feels isolated from the game and his friends. Jolene reluctantly plays hockey due to her mother’s insistence. The recent death of her father causes her great grief. Amed is a recent arrival to Australia from a refugee camp. An Australian aunt, whom he has just met, sponsors his coming to Australia and is keen to offer him a new life. But for Amed, who knows little English and misses his homeland’s familiar football game, his new life is confusing and lonely.
Murphy cleverly interweaves these three lives, enabling each to see the others’ challenges and gently offer support. Their strong emotions are very cleverly revealed through the story’s ‘resting points’—dictionary-style word definitions tinged with emotions such as watch, belong, lonely, worry and togetherness. These propel the story along, provide thoughtful points to consider and reveal how Blake, Jolene and Amed are feeling and changing. This is a verse novel that snares and satisfies the reader.
- Cross Cultural Relations