This book was referred to me by a student at Cromwell College who told me I had to read it after I had talked to her class about The Book Of Hat by Harriet Rowland. So I did. She was not wrong, this is an outstanding piece of writing about a boy called Mark who has a mission to accomplish before he dies of cancer.
Mark’s mission is to climb Mt Rainier because he told his dieing granddad that he would do it, but it rapidly becomes a mission that he himself must accomplish. He cleverly leaves his home town with his dog Beau inside a duffle bag. He takes supplies to climb the mountain but does he plan to return? Beau is a magnificent character that all children will relate to.
On their journey to Mt Rainier, in dreadful winter conditions, they encounter the best and the worst of human behaviour, and learn that there is more than one kind of truth. But nothing will stop our intrepid hero and his dog.
Structured in 13 short chapters narrated by Mark and 13 half chapters narrated by Jessie, best friend of Mark. She is carrying a massive secret and through Jessie we learn of the progress of Mark’s cancer.
A tear jerker for sure but an honest one. I read it in one sitting and I was angry, happy, sad and terribly apprehensive throughout the book. A must read for Intermediate and secondary school readers.
Hat was 17 when she was diagnosed with bone cancer in her left leg. She decided to open a blog titled My Experience of walking the Dog in which she tells of her incredible life after the cancer was diagnosed.
This story is edited entries of her life told in diary form from 28 August 2011 till December 2013. Harriet died in March 2014. Her story is a roller coaster of highs, lows, chemo therapy, vomiting, and living the teenage life. Harriet tried to live, she never gave up and she documents it all.
Each entry is a gush of how she is at the time. She loved her family and had amazing friends. She fell in love twice, traveled to places that most people dream about and went through agony. It is all here with photographs.
It is funny, it has wisdom, it will make you cry. The statement that got me was a conversation she had with her father in the Italian city of Verona. She said to him”life could not be more perfect. And his reply was “it really could be”. No parent wants to see their child die.
The power of the book is it is written as Hat feels and while her life was short it was a privileged life and I am glad I had the privilege to share it in this non fiction work.
Life on the Refrigerator door by Alice Kuipers. Pub. MacMillan, 2007.
It is a mother and daughter novel. Claire is 15 years old and she lives with her mother who is a doctor specialising in childbirth. Because babies tend to come at any time of day, Claire and her mother rarely see each other and communicate by leaving notes on, you guessed it, the refrigerator door.
Sometime the notes are as banal as asking each other to collect groceries or to discuss the livelihood of their pet rabbit Peter.
Then something serious happens to the mother and Claire discovers boys. The notes now get more meaningful and a wider range of emotions are expressed. That is it. You will have to read it to find out more.
This is an easy read which you could finish in one sitting. For the reluctant girl reader of high school age, it is ideal. I enjoyed it even though the emotion was a bit much for a manly bloke like me.