The Other Side of Summer – Emily Gale

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ISBN: 9780143780113

Published: 30/05/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

Sometimes a book strikes such a personal chord with you that you are almost mesmerised by it from the first. My own family’s grief over the loss of my youngest daughter last year has wrought such changes in our dynamic that at times it feels hard to breathe.

Summer’s family are torn apart by the death of her brother Floyd following a bomb explosion at Waterloo Station. Her mother Cece is paralysed by depression (and believe me, I know how that feels), her older sister Wren retreats further into her Goth styling and perpetual angriness and her Dad is battling to keep the family afloat in the face of his own sadness. Despite the best efforts of her amazing friend Mal, Summer cannot seem to move ahead in any sense and when Floyd’s beloved guitar is returned to the family unscathed despite the bomb destruction, the pain comes flooding back albeit with the mystery of how it survived where Floyd did not.

When Summer’s Dad decides that moving back to his home country of Australia is just what the family needs, the emotions are mixed and compounded even further when at the last moment Cece stays behind with her own mother.

Moving to the other side of the world is not what Summer wants but at least a part of her thinks that maybe there is a chance of finding her own self, alongside with Floyd’s voice in her head and his guitar at her side.

When she meets a strange boy down at the local creek, she at first thinks he is a ghost and perhaps meant to help her, but as the plot unravels via twists and turns it appears that this is no ghost and Summer is the one who must be the helper.  She realises there is a connection to the Ibanez Artwood guitar but what is it?

This is a beautiful exploration of grief, intertwining lives and the deep darkness of depression which will intrigue readers from the start.

I would highly recommend this for readers from around 12 upwards and will be promoting it in our Secondary Book Club at our next meeting.

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