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Posts Tagged ‘Year 10-12’

Sometimes there are novels you read that are great, then there are others which grip you like a clamp, dragging you – body and soul – into the centre of time and place that is so graphic and so real that you are left shaken by what you have read, experienced, felt and learned.  I found myself shaking as I got to the last pages of this book, moaning to myself that no, it couldn’t end like this.

Set at the turn of the century, riddled with the dirt and dust of small Australian country towns and mixed with the desperate poverty that few today realize or knew was as harsh and unbearable as it really was,  a young girl is sold by her father for nine shillings and sixpence to a scrap man who offers them money to provide food for their other children.  The child he buys is just three years old.  Two other young children bought in previous years have lived with him for a while.  They are now aged around 20 and 12.  Their owner, the scrap man, controls their every movement.  Their fate was sealed the day they were bought.  As the youngest lives her squalid life in her new family, her constant companion is her thoughts about the day she would run away.

This story of abuse, brutality and survival is set against the historical background of country Victoria prior to and after WWI and through the hideous time of the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic that hit Australia in 1919.   This was a difficult read.  Heartbreaking and very graphic it is suited to mature age readers.  Disher is truly one of Australia’s most outstanding authors.

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Historical Fiction, Social Issues
Suitable: Years 10-12+

 

 

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me-you
Fourteen year old Lorenzo, a loner who tries very hard to ‘fit in’ tells his parents that he has been invited to go on a skiing holiday for a week with a group of kids from school.  Instead of going, he hides out in the cellar of his apartment block.  All is well until his half sister, Olivia, appears and wants to share his hiding place.  Ammaniti is a gifted writer who chooses difficult issues and confronts them head on.  The Italian title of this book is “io e te”.

Although this could be a somewhat confusing read for a YA reader, the message it sends is powerful.

Rating:  ****
Theme Fiction: 
Social Problems
Suitable:  Year 10-12

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dark-matterWhen Jason Dessen leaves home one evening to attend a congratulatory get-together with his friend he never imagined that his life would change so dramatically.  When he doesn’t make it home, the lives of his wife and son also, unwittingly, alter.  With masterful writing, Crouch leads us through the maze which becomes Jason’s life.  It is a science fiction thriller flashing through multiple universes while dipping into quantum physics which makes us think deeply about unseen paradoxes that can result when forced to decide which of two opposing life altering paths to follow. The sequence of events which follow one decision differ dramatically from the other.  Skillful writing around a complex plot leaves us pondering the many twists and turns our own lives have taken.

Rating:  ****
Theme Fiction:
Science Fiction
Suitable:  Year 10-12+

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The perfumer's secretThe arranged marriage of Fleurette, the only daughter of a wealthy Delacroix perfume dynasty, to Aimery, the head of another pre-eminent French perfume manufacturer on the eve of World War I is dreaded by Fleurette.  She not only loathes the man, but he literally makes her skin crawl. Yet, Fleurette is being forced to marry him for the good of the family.  A letter intended to stop the wedding proceeding is sent by the estranged brother of the groom, but it arrives too late. Only the tolling of the city bells on the night of their wedding, calling all the men of France to the battle fields, saves Fleurette from having to share the matrimonial bed with this repulsive man.  Months later, when the contents of the letter are fully explained to her in person by his brother, Fleurette finally becomes privy to a shocking and profound secret.  Evocative writing combine with a complex plot to captivate and entrance the reader.  Anticipating the outcome is cloaked in mystery until the very end.  A fabulous read by Fiona McIntosh!

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Historical Fiction
Suitable:  Year 10-12+

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Friendship breadWhen a grieving woman finds a loaf of ‘Amish Friendship Bread’ on her doorstep one day, she could never imagine what may happen if she followed the instructions and baked a loaf of bread for herself and gave ‘starter packs’ to others.  The impact on her, her family and those who live nearby in the small town of Avalon are really quite extraordinary.  The simple and clever story line draws you in and envelops you, leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy – inside out! A great read by Darien Gee.

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Person to person
Suitable:  Year 10-12+

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My sister RosaChe Taylor’s little sister Rosa is ‘different’.  Living in a family with parents who have relocated for work reasons several times since Rosa was born, the toll on all members of the family, particularly Che who takes it on himself to look after and protect Rosa, becomes ever more complex.  Keen to study medicine when he graduates from school, Che diagnoses Rosa to be a psychopath with severe personality disorders.  Larbalestier’s unfolding story highlights the impact one individual can have on the life of others.

Rating: ****
Theme Fiction: 
Thriller
Suitable:  Year 10-12+

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Friday Brown
Friday Brown runs away from her grandfather’s home soon after her mother dies.   She is lost and alone when found by a boy nicknamed Silence.   Taken into his ‘home’ Friday learns to live rough with a bunch of street kids.  A power play between the leader of this motley group and  Friday has a feel of being highly contrived.  The characters in this story do not seem real.  It’s a strange novel which is a disappointment following Wakefield’s previous book “All I ever wanted” which was quite gripping.

Rating: ***
Theme Fiction: 
Person to Person
Suitable: 
Year 10-12

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Determined to escape the poverty and crime linked to her home and family, Mim takes an oath with her best friend to stick to ‘rules’ that will deliver them a better life than those around them.  But just nine days before her 17th birthday, Mim’s life takes an unexpected turn when the parcel her Mum forces her to collect from a local drug dealer is taken from her.   This first novel, by new YA author Vikki Wakefield, is gritty and confronting. Mature themes including a near rape scene.

Rating:  *****
Theme Fiction: 
Social Problems
Suitable:   Year 10-12+

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Although a bit slow to start, this develops into a great read which realistically describes the experience of a young German boy during Second World War. Sent to live in an orphanage in Warsaw after his parents are killed by the Russians, Peter is soon fostered by a German family who regard his ‘Aryan’ looks to be perfect. Given the best of everything, Peter starts to question his privileged lifestyle, realizing that fitting the mould set for him is not all that easy. Paul Dowswell’s novel, based on historical fact, provides much insight into many issues surrounding those difficult war years.

Rating:  *****
Theme Fiction: 
Historical Fiction
Suitable:  Year 10-12

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Katherine “Katie” Tarbox, the author of the internationally bestselling book, A girl’s life online, is a reprint of the 2001 book Katie.com, a ground breaking memoir detailing her account with an Internet predator.   As a 13 year old, Katie meets Mark in an internet chat room.  Finding someone who understands and cares about her, their relationship remains a secret.  Travelling to Texas to meet him, it is only then that she discovers Mark to be a 23 year old Internet predator.  A landmark court case results in Mark being accused of paedophilia.  This true story, told by Katie as a 17 year old, is as relevant today as it was more than ten years ago when first published and remains in print and translated into more than 35 languages in 50 different countries.  An excellent read for older teenagers and their parents.  Mature themes dominate.

Rating:  *****
Theme Fiction: 
Social Problems, Memoir
Suitable:  Year 10-12+

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