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Archive for the ‘Realism’ Category

Nobody Real by Steve Camden.

April 11, 2018 Comments off

nobody real.jpgNobody Real by Steve Camden. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

It took me three days to read this astonishing novel. I sat down poured a whiskey and said Wow. A mixture of realism and fantasy that is strangely satisfying.

To paraphrase a theme from the book “the real us lives in dark corners”. If you don’t want to go there don’t start this book.

Marcie or Mars is about to turn 18 and has just finished her final exams. Everybody says your whole life is in front of you, but first she must settle with the past.

When she was a toddler her artistic mum left and she grew up with her artistic father who is an agonised writer. He has had a novel published that critics called brilliant. Marcie copes with life by creating an invisible friend who is like a boy polar bear she calls Thor. He has been with her for 10 years and it is time to go. She has to be weened off Thor and it is up to Thor to do it.

What Marcie doesn’t know is that Thor has his own unreal world which parallels the real world of Marcie and when his work with Marcie is done he will face the Fade. What is the Fade? You will have to read the novel to find out.

Marcie needs to be herself, she has to make her own mistakes and she has to settle with the breakup of her parents. Her  road to reconcile with the past and her current friends and family is going to be bumpy.

Fascinating style of writing. Written in different fonts for the real and the unreal often poetic, always interesting, often confusing but totally compelling. One of the best young adult novels I have read for a long time.

Love Hate & other filters by Samira Ahmed

January 26, 2018 Comments off

love & hateLove Hate & other filters by Samira Ahmed. Pub. Hot Key books, 2018.

Some powerful novels for young adults come out of Trump’s America these days, most related to the social upheaval that his been inflicted on America because of racial, religious, political and terror related events. This is one of them and it is very good.

Maya is 18 years old, she is a Muslim Indian whose parents are successful dentists in small town America. They are unashamedly staunch traditionalists who came to America with some taboos packed tightly into the corners of their immigrant baggage. They want the best for their daughter and to control her life in the traditional Indian way.

Maya is an American girl and with American aspirations who wants to make movies. She has a video camera with her all the time and films family events. She is very quick witted and literate in a Jane Austen sort of way and she is attracted to the star football player of her high school, Phil, and he is attracted to her. Their rom com relationship is one of the highlights of the novel as is Maya’s relationship with her traditionalist mother.

When Maya tells her mother she does not want an arranged relationship with Kareem, who is delightful by the way and understanding, and wants to go to film school in New York, the family is in turmoil. The mother fears she will wear mini skirts and eat pork.

It gets worse. Between chapters there is another plot going on. A suicide bomber is plotting , preparing and ultimately commits the  terrorist act killing hundreds including children. People take it out on Maya and her family, they are assumed guilty by association as everybody considers the bomber was Muslim.

Read this novel it is fascinating. I was hooked from the first chapter which describes a traditional Indian wedding with it’s Bollywood overtones. The wit and depth of feeling is compelling. One of the best.

 

Catch me When You fall by Eileen Merriman

December 15, 2017 Comments off

catch me when i fallCatch me When You fall by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This tear jerker of a novel for teenagers and young adults is set in my home town of Christchurch and will be released for publication on 3 January 2018. I have the privilege of reading it early and know I shouldn’t write an early review but I can’t hold it in, so here goes.

Alex went into remission for Leukemia when she was thirteen and now on the eve of a check up when she is sixteen she meets Jamie. He is an extrovert, an actor, takes lithium every day and is bipolar.

They fall in love in four days as Alex finds her leukemia has come back with a vengeance and goes through the tortuous treatment to rid her body of this cruel disease. In between time Alex and Jamie fall in love and all those around them including the brilliant parents and sister go through the daily agonies of Alex’s treatment.

I learnt more about leukemia from this novel than I could have from a medical journal. This is the power of fiction. Personalising this condition has for the want of better words given leukemia life.

Very well written and structured and will appeal to all those that like Fault in the Stars by John Green and similar novels. Give yourself plenty of space when reading this novel, it is powerful.

 

 

 

 

 

The Mud by Mick Stone

December 8, 2017 Comments off

mudThe Mud by Mick Stone. Pub. BMS Books, 2017

The coast around Whakakatane has sandy beaches and muddy estuaries and these form the backdrop to this rather disturbing story of 17 year old Emily Lewis who has been abused by the man she knows as father for much of her life.

Emily has been taken off a boat she has drifted around the estuary in, talking to her yet unborn baby, while her mother’s house has become a crime scene after she was stabbed in the back. Are all these events linked?

Emily is cautioned and taken to the cells, moved around the court and psychiatric circuit which she is well adept at handling and it is she who narrates the story. I liked Emily, she is clearly able academically but her life has virtually been snuffed out by adults who clearly need to be dealt to under the law.

Emily  has the opinion that “there is nothing you or anyone else can do about me”. Adults all the way down the line have failed her. How very sad. This story is only 105 pages long and is a short sharp punch in the guts. It is written to assist others who are in the same predicament as her.

Secondary and young adult

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

November 24, 2017 Comments off

here we areHere We Are by Oliver Jeffers Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

If you had to explain what planet earth was and what went on here to a newcomer, how would you do it?

Well Oliver Jeffers has a new son and in the most simplest of terms tells his son all about Earth, how it looks, where it is in relation to the Universe, what life there is on Earth and what we do here.

That is a massive effort and in doing so he gets us, the reader, to assess or reassess what we are doing here. “there are lots of us here so be kind.There is enough for everyone”

He describes the land, the sea and the sky, what a human looks like, how different we all are but how similar we are too. All the animals that are here their diversity and where everybody lives including the city and country. Mr Jeffers comes from Brooklyn so the bridge gets in there.

His advice to his son is to be kind and when he is not around to answer questions you can always ask someone else.

A beautiful message. And there’s more. The illustrations are spectacular. If you don’t read this book you have missed one of the choices of the year.

For everybody.

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

July 25, 2017 Comments off

sparrowSparrow by Scot Gardner. Pub Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Every day I see people scrambling for life and survival on the streets. Every city in the World has them and we walk on by trying hard not to notice. We never ask where do they sleep? how come they are there? what do they do all day? are they in good health? even when they are children.

This is the story of Sparrow a ten year old boy living on the streets of Darwin and making a good fist of it in spite of a horrible background. Sparrow has lost the power of speech because of the treatment meted out to him by family and others. He has a shock of hair a dashing smile and helps wherever he can for food and company.

Sparrow is looked after by an old man called Sharky who teaches him how to swim, a skill that will save his life. Every day Sparrow avoids the “ghost boys” who haunt the streets, taking drugs and booze and whatever else they can get hold of. One of them is Sparrow’s brother.

Leap forward five years and Sparrow is in Juvie and on a survival trip in shark and croc infested waters. An accident and Sparrow is out in the bush trying to survive in hostile country but at least he is free and he knows it.

The novel is superbly structured as the two strands of Sparrow’s life are told in consecutive chapters,coming together near the end of the book. Scot Gardner’s descriptions of the wilderness with it’s snakes, lizards, insects, crocs, sharks and physical beauty, are stunning. His understanding of the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, the human condition and how to survive, are praiseworthy indeed.

Simple to read it is accessible to the most reluctant of readers of reading ages 14-18 years. The hopeful ending will bring joy to your heart.

Don’t miss this one. A potential award winner. Superb cover because you are always waiting for the croc to show up.

Where is Grandma? by Peter Schossow

June 30, 2017 Comments off

where is grandmaWhere is Grandma? by Peter Schossow. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

I have never seen illustrations like those in this excellent picture book about a young boy Henry who gets lost in the hospital while visiting his grandma.

Each double page illustrations shows a side of hospital life from reception through the endless wards to triage, geriatrics, neo- natal, the basement and security until Henry finally finds grandma.

Henry gets lost because his minder is talking on her cell phone. How typical these days, many a sin is committed while others are on their cell phones.

Each illustration has big people with prominent noses, going about there lives in the hospital and accentuates the loneliness and trauma of being in such a place. The illustrations also reflect the cultural diversity of modern Germany.

Henry is bewildered yet interested in all he experiences until Grandma scolds him when security deliver him to her room, but she is delighted to see him.

The hospital environment is sterile and unwelcoming yet there is a moment of comic genius when Henry finds a friend who has a bean stuck up her nose. How did it get there? and what has happened to grandma?

Read it and find out, you will find it a unique experience.