Too Right Boy by M.O. Chamberlain. Pub. SHIHvillage publications. raewyn@247PR.co.nz. 2016
A self published novel about a road trip by grandfather Harry aged 80’s and his grandson Brad aged 12 years. A road trip that is life changing for both grandfather and grandson.
Harry is a retired journalist with plenty of life experience, a risk taker and a man who deeply loved his deceased wife. He misses her and still talks to her but he kept a secret from her and the road trip is going to out this secret and others.
Brad has a bit of baggage too. His mother is over protective and considers Harry to be irresponsible and an earlier day trip on horseback just strengthened her beliefs.
Harry decides on a road trip in a camper van and Brad is forbidden to go, but he stows away when granddad leaves and circumstances at home ensure that Brad remains with his granddad for the trip at least.
On the trip many subjects are discussed between the two from sex to God and drugs. Brad is a surfer and this stimulates his writing as Harry encourages him to write the events of each day down. There is also a Harley Davidson and a violent confrontation to surprise readers. Rule nothing out on this trip.Things get testy on the road as Harry relives his life and Brad soaks up the experience.
Well told in journalistic style with plenty to interest boy readers in a sort of Barry Crump way. It is positive in spite of the family demons that need to be worked through. I found it very easy to relate to Harry.
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom. Imprint HarperCollins, 2017.
This is a senior Young Adult novel from a brilliant writer who knows how to unlock and discuss serious emotional and mental conditions in young people. It is positive.
When Mel was thirteen her older brother who lit up her life died. The family shifted house, the parents separated and Mel never told any of her friends that she had had a brother.
Mel had a breakdown and now takes a whole lot of drugs including ritalin to level her out. Now she is sixteen in a new school with new friends and working in an old peoples home called Silver Sands.
Every chapter is headed by the same four headings of animals beginning with H. Hamster describes her head condition, Hummingbird her heart, Hammerhead her physical condition and Hannigananimal whether she is up or down.
Mel sees herself as an antisocial underachiever, but she is not. Her manner at the Silver Sands retirement home is outstanding. She is caring and perceptive and she is going to get better.
Mel narrates the story of her life at school and with her friends and family and between these chapters there are chapters written in italics that tell about her brother and her arguements with friends that get to the heart of her mental state.
Battles are never won. Only survived. The dialogue between characters and the relationships between teenagers and adults are excellently handled.
Beautifully written in short sharp chapters that will keep you in the book. I couldn’t put it down. Eric Lindstrom also has Not If I See You First reviewed on this blog.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Pub. Katherine Tegen Books, imprint HarperCollins, 2017.
One of the most powerfully written novels for Senior students and young adults that I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster ride concerning events that people just don’t want to believe or face. It addresses the question of justice. Can there ever be true justice for those who are helpless to defend themselves?
Mary B. Addison was 9 years old when the 6 month old baby, Alyssa, whom her mother was babysitting, was killed violently by Mary – allegedly. Too horrific to think that a child could kill another child. That’s what the justice system, the media and the populace at large thought. Get it over with, put her inside and forget about her? Throw away the key.
Mary spends years in baby prison as she calls it and now on the eve of her 16th birthday she is put in a group home with other girls who are also deeply disturbed. Mary has been abused to the level where she says nothing, beaten black and blue and has no hope for herself in this world. She is lead to believe by her mother that the devil is inside her and there is no hope for her. But Mary loved Alyssa and not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her.
Then several things happen at the new Group home. Mary meets Ted a 19 year old boy who works at the old peoples home where Mary is allowed to work. Mary becomes pregnant with a child she calls Bean. Ted is good for her and opens her up. Then a new girl comes to the home and shows Mary computer access to the World and introduces Mary to a lawyer Ms. Cora who interviews Mary and decides to make an appeal to have her case reopened.
I can tell you no more. It is a compelling read and if you don’t get emotionally involved with this story then you are heartless. You will be full of hope and gutted at the same time.
This is a special book. Read it, savour it, ask questions. Mary loves a mother who doesn’t deserve her love. The ending thankfully is hopeful.
Trouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach & Sarafino Enadio. Pub.Allen&Unwin, 2017.
This is the harrowing story of 15 year old Obulejo and his 5 year journey from his homeland in South Sudan to Australia. It is based on a true story and will give the reader an understanding of the hardship, violence and mistreatment that many refugees go through to arrive in the safety of our country.
Obulejo is a beautiful person whose name means Trouble Tomorrow the title of this book but I think he has had his fair share of trouble already and deserves better. If you met Obulejo in the circumstances in which he finds himself in, then you would be a lucky person indeed.
Born in a South Sudan village that had English as it’s educational language and christianity as it’s belief. The South had rich agricultural land and oil. This was desired by the largely Muslim North with it’s Sharia Law and war broke out. There were two wars the first ended in 1972 when I traveled south from Egypt to Juba and Malakal into Zaire. The people were lovely and it surprised me that the second war from 1983 to 2005 was such a brutal barbaric affair. It’s still going on.
Obulejo’s flight in the face of rebel advancement mirrors 100’s of thousands of others who did not survive. The wars cost over 2 million lives with thousands more in refugee camps. Life in a refugee camp is also a feature of this book.
For high school students and young adults but prepare for some harrowing brutality and some numbing humanity. The treatment of children will make you weep.
Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, & Deborah Biancotti. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2015.
There is a saying that says you can go from hero to zero in a matter of moments. You could say that about the six teenagers with special powers who are the main characters in this first of three novels for teens. The teenagers have super powers but there is a price to pay.
The group are loosely connected and haven’t seen each other for about a year due to Ethan aka Scam. He has a voice inside him that reflects his wants and desires but with incredible knowledge about anybody he speaks to. He knows them intimately and can disarm and enrage them in one conversation and can con his way out or into anything.
It is Scam who prompts all the action after conning a drug thug out of a duffle bay full of money then being in a bank robbery while trying to deposit the money. Scam calls on Nate Bellwater called Glorious Leader because of his power to organise and placate things, to help him out.
Nate calls on Chizara aka Crash to spring Scam from jail with her powers to shut down any electronic software in a building. She is assisted by Flicker a blind girl who can see through other peoples eyes and together they create chaos.
Scam needs to hide and does so with Thibault or Anonymous who has the power to be forgotten by anyone who connects with him.
The last of the Zeroes is Kelsie who has the power to take control over crowds. She is aware of her powers but has not met the other Zeroes and they are not aware of her.
Thrilling action as the Zeroes get together. Three authors and you cannot tell which of them is writing which parts. All three are great writers and while this is a long book it is easy to read in short sharp chapters with great dialogue and fast moving action.
A totally unique idea with a sequel titled Swarm already out and a third part Nexus out this year. Readers of action will love this series.
No One Here Gets out Alive by Jerry Hopkins & Danny Sugerman. Pub. Plexus Publishing, 1980.
A journalist once wrote “the Beatles and the Stones are for blowing your mind: the Doors are for afterwards, when your mind is already gone“. This biography comes under the same category.
I loved the Doors music and the image of Jim Morrison as it was revealed to us then, but I really didn’t know the truth about him and I guess most of it has gone to the grave. I visited his grave at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris in 2004. It was hard to find and a bit of a let down, but I hummed Riders on the Storm to myself and wondered.
This book pulls no punches and much if it is based on anecdotal stories from his friends, his women and from his younger brother. Surprisingly nothing from Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger or John Densmore his fellow Doors.
The story however is gripping and riveting and is told in three parts with image of a bow being draw, the arrow flying and dropping to the ground. A full discology of the Doors songs, when they were played, how they were recorded and Morrison’s behaviour throughout.
All the major events at concerts including his arrest for lewd behaviour are recounted and the drugs and booze extravagances that Morrison put himself through. The best part for me is the analysis of the songs that evolved from his poetry and the extraordinary imagery that Morrison gave to his writing. The title is a line from the anti war song Unknown Soldier. Morrison wanted to be taken seriously but his destructive behaviour prevented him being bigger and better than he was.
In the end Jim Morrison was a poet but lived a rock star life. It destroyed him. Read for yourself. He was the third member of the 27 club after Hendrix and Joplin. He knew them both.His death was controversial but if anybody could have faked it, it was Jim Morrison.
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. Pub. Penguin Books, 2016.
This superb young adult novel about awakening is one that you will never forget.
The novel begins with a letter to Flora from her mother. It tells Flora she is 17 years old and that when she was ten she had a tumour taken from her brain and with it the memory of everything that has happened since. It also says she has a friend Paige and that she (Flora) will always live with her parents who will care for her and keep her safe.
Is this true?
At a party everything that Flora has known is dramatically changed when Paige’s boyfriend Drake, a total scoundrel, kisses her in a way that she remembers and can never forget. Like Sleeping Beauty she awakens to a confused life she never knew and with a memory that gives her hope and life.
Flora lives from day to day by writing important things on her arms and in a book, but this is sorely tested when her parents leave for Paris to look after an older brother that Flora never knew existed.
Flora comes off her medication and embarks on a journey to the North Pole to find the boy who kissed her, in the hope that he will spark further memories. The adventure is stunning and Flora meets some wonderful people during the journey while discovering everything she has been told is not as it seems. Be Brave Flora.
The best novel I have read this year. Superbly structured in three parts and narrated by Flora in a manner that reflects her medical condition.
The ending is hopeful and tells much about the human condition. Unforgettable and believable. Due for release 3 January 2017