Tag Archives: Relationships

Don’t Read the Comments – Eric Smith

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Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

  • ISBN: 9781489295705
  • ISBN 10: 1489295704
  • Imprint: HQ Young Adult – US
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

Ok, I admit it, I’d kind of let this one slide because really my scan of the blurb made me think – oh, gaming online – so not my kind of thing. WRONG! Because, yes it does revolve around gaming but it is far more about relationships, both family and friends (real and virtual), bullying/intimidation, identity and determination. I really enjoyed it and will be talking it up to my students with gusto.

Divya is queen of her universe – that is to say, she is a hugely popular streaming gamer and queen of her #angstarmada within the virtual world of Reclaim the Sun. With her best friend and trusty lieutenant Rebekah she has, as D1V, accrued a massive following and sponsorships from major companies which all help her and her single mum to survive financially.

Aaron’s passion for gaming is all-consuming and his ambition is to be the scriptwriter for successful games, much to the chagrin of his mother who is pushing him to become a doctor like herself. In spite of his family’s secure financial situation, Aaron has painstakingly assembled his gaming rig himself from salvaged components out of his neighbourhood’s garbage.

These two connect online although each is still dealing with their own set of problems alone but when a truly fearsome legion of trolls calling themselves Vox Populi begin threatening not only their virtual world but their real lives they join forces resolutely and refuse to go down without a fight.

It is gripping and intense, though also relieved throughout with some humour and light-heartedness as the relationship between the two gamers develops.

In my opinion this is a contemporary novel which many young adults will enjoy and find very relatable, particularly with its strong theme of following your dreams and resisting the intimidation of bullies.

Highly recommended for readers from around 13ish upwards!

When Rain Turns to Snow – Jane Godwin

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Hachette Australia

JUN 30, 2020 | 9780734420053 | RRP $16.99

If you are looking for something new in your ‘identity’ collection this beautiful coming-of-age narrative will be a perfect fit.

The recent months have been a revelation in how some humans handle a crisis situation and for teens this can be a real challenge. Lissa is no different. Home alone one afternoon a strange boy turns up on her doorstep with a small baby in his arms. Reed has recently found out that he’s adopted and believes that Lissa’s mother might also be his but more than that, his older and troubled brother has handed over the baby, his tiny daughter, for safekeeping. Being on the run is hard enough but having a tiny human to care for makes it almost impossible. Lissa finds herself caught up in Reed’s dilemma while, at the same time, trying to help her older brother who has been blamed for a social media debacle with huge ramifications.

In the process of trying to unravel Reed’s history as well as helping him care for tiny Mercy, Lissa uncovers a secret about her own birth which causes her real anguish and questioning around her own identity.

Jane Godwin has written a beautiful story with compelling characters for whom the reader really feels as they navigate their various ways through their complex predicaments. This is a story of inner strength, family solidarity and an expression of the true meaning of family – it’s not about blood, it is in fact about love.

I highly recommend this for your readers from around 12 years upwards. I can’t wait to ‘book talk’ it tomorrow to my student book group.

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle – Sophie Green

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9780733641169

Hachette

JUL 23, 2019 | 9780733641169 | RRP $29.99

 

If you missed The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club which was a runaway success a couple of years ago you must make certain not to neglect this new novel from Sophie Green!

Once again readers become heavily invested in the lives of the main characters; Marie, Theresa, Elaine and Leanne, as they form a strong bond of supportive friendship. Each of these women are facing their own challenges and when they unexpectedly meet up on Shelly Beach for a dawn swim they gradually and tentatively begin to connect despite their differing ages and circumstances.

Marie still mourns the loss of her husband five years previously and more so since her oldest friend moved away to a retirement village. With her terrier Charlie Brown her only real companion she often finds herself falling into melancholy. But she’s swum every morning almost her whole life and is determined to keep it up.

Then there is Theresa, young mother of two lively children, married to an insensitive, lazy and philandering husband. Despite the support of her Nonna who lives with them, Theresa is struggling to keep her emotions under control as her marriage disintegrates.

Elaine has recently migrated to Shelly Beach with her Australian-born surgeon husband leaving two grown up sons behind in England, as well as her own successful business. Essentially she is grieving for her past life and is resistant to embracing the new one on offer. Her solace becomes habitual and increasing gin and tonics until she reaches a crisis point.

The youngest of the group is quiet reserved Leanne who is hiding a dark secret which has left her emotionally scarred and wary of everyone, particularly men.

Each has their own personal reason for the early morning swim but soon discovers that in numbers, especially a close circle of women friends, is strength. That strength becomes even more important when each of them face significant changes in their lives.

Again this is a marvellous reflection of the impact our own personal circles have on our mental and physical wellbeing. Like its predecessor it is an insightful exploration of the power of friendship, trust and genuine love.

I highly recommend it to you and if you should be looking for a title for a book club this would be a perfect fit.

 

The Shop at Hoopers Bend – Emily Rodda

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Harper Collins

      ISBN: 9781460753668

      ISBN 10: 1460753666

      Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

     On Sale: 24/07/201

     List Price: 16.99 AUD

When you go to bed feeling a little tired and start reading a new book and then just keep reading it until you’re finished, you know it’s a terrific piece of writing.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Emily Rodda books but this is a pearler!

Jonquil Medway (known as Quil) is an orphan who lives with her very top executive high-flying childless aunt – who is kind but not exactly a kindred spirit. Quil is generally either at boarding school or at holiday camps since her aunt is always globe-trotting and she’s pretty fed up with it all.

On this occasion as her aunt has flown off to Germany, Quil has been left overnight with Aunty Pam’s PA (even less a kindred spirit) and is being delivered to the railway station to go to yet another month long camp. To kill time before the train Quil is trailing behind PA Maggie at a very dingy flea market when she comes upon something astonishing. A beautiful cup with her name and her flower hand painted on it. Quil tingles with the magic of finally finding something with her own unusual name and wonders who made it and where the Hoopers Bend Gallery might be when she discovers that title on the underside.

To her great surprise as the train chugs up to the Mountains, Quil is suddenly staring at a platform sign bearing the legend Hoopers Bend. Impulsively she disembarks and thus begins a marvellous and almost mystical time of self-discovery.

An old and dilapidated village shop, an amusing little black and white dog and a rather bitter woman named Bailey are the catalysts for Quil finding her own true self and her life history. As if the stars align everything begins to change for this lonely little girl.

Emily Rodda has skilfully woven tiny threads one after the other to complete this masterful tapestry of ordinary people uncovering extraordinary events. Her characterisations are superb and her setting so powerful the readers can imagine them inside the story along with Quil.

This is going to be a huge winner with readers I predict and quite easily the kind of book that will sit well with teachers for use in Readers Circles and the like.  Themes of trust, honesty, inclusivity, friendship and simple pleasures will lend themselves well to discussions. Beautifully written and accessible to readers from around nine years upwards this is likely to be a title of note in the next twelve months.

Find teaching notes here.

Highly recommended for your collection – order it now!