HomeIDIOM #53. n1 reviewsFiction

Night Swimming

Small Night SwimmingAuthor: Steph Bowe
Publisher: Text Publishing (2017), 312 pages
RRP: $19.99

Night Swimming by Steph Bowe is a love story with a twist about a girl, a boy and the new girl in town.

Kirby Arrow and Clancy Lee have been best friends since primary school and because most teenagers in the town of Alberton are sent to boarding school, these best friends find themselves as the only seventeen year old teenagers remaining in their small country town miles from any big town or city.

Kirby has strong roots to her town and to her family who live there and who have a record of leaving and she doesn’t want to repeat her family’s history but her mother wonders how she could not leave in order to make her mark beyond Alberton. Clancy is the complete opposite and can’t wait to escape from the town’s small confines, his parents and their Chinese restaurant.


The Cruelty

Small The Cruelty copyAuthor: Scott Bergstrom
Publisher: Walker Books (2017), 448 pages
RRP: $18.99

The front cover reads: 'A girl, A daughter, An assassin' and what you read is what you get. Think of a young adult version of the Jason Bourne. This is a fast actioned packed thriller of a novel that has love, death, mystery, crime, terrorism, suspense and kidnapping at its core.

Gwendolyn Bloom and her diplomat father have moved around the world to wherever her father has been posted and currently her father has been relocated to New York.

Gwendolyn is the odd girl out in her new exclusive school and doesn’t really fit in and when she is suspended, she meets another student Terrance from her school while checking out Jazz records in Queens. There is a spark between them but their passion is interrupted when Gwendolyn discovers that her father has gone missing. It is a new love that has been thwarted so early on but Terrance becomes a vital support for Gwendolyn in her quest to find her father.


The Hate U Give

Small Hate U GiveAuthor: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books (2017), 442 pages
RRP: $17.99

'…you matter and your voice matters.'

An unprovoked police shooting results in the death of Starr Carter’s unarmed friend, Khalil. The incident thrusts Starr into the harsh reality of systemic racism that permeates not only her poor neighbourhood but her nation. This reality guides Starr to realise her voice is her biggest weapon; and so she uses it.

The Hate U Give is an important novel. Unashamedly inspired by the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, it exposes the inherent, entrenched injustices of the communities in which Black infants are born and raised, and which can’t help but produce disillusioned youth. These consequences, and complications, stem largely from the impact and ramifications of drugs, both the use and trafficking of, and violence. They also arise from the ironies of the justice system. This novel helps humanise a reality that is far removed from many young adults’. Could many 16-year-old Australians imagine their parents sitting them down as children for a talk about ‘the birds and the bees’, as well as what to do should they be stopped by police on the street?


The Things We Promise

Small The Things We PromiseAuthor: J.C. Burke
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2017), 370 pages
RRP: $19.99

J.C. Burke’s novel is likely to resonate with those who grew up in Australia in the early 1990s. Burke not only recreates the popular culture of this era but also the fear and societal attitudes in response to the growing AIDS/HIV pandemic. Narrator, Gemma, is fashion-focussed and absorbed with preparations for her upcoming (33 weeks away) school formal. Her dress-maker mother is making her the perfect gown and her brother Billy, a hair and make-up artist working in New York, has promised to come home to work his magic on her for her big night. But Gemma senses that all is not right in her world. A recent episode of Degrassi High has ignited discussion in school about HIV/AIDS, her mother is defensive when she wants to phone her brother and his partner Saul in New York and she discovers that her brother’s ex-boyfriend has recently passed away after a mysterious ‘short illness’. Gemma’s worst fears are soon realised and she must face the challenges and heartbreak that comes from discovering that her brother has contracted HIV.


Trouble Tomorrow

Small Trouble TomorrowAuthors: Terry Whitebeach and Sarafino Enadio
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2017), 205 pages
RRP: $16.99

Trouble Tomorrow is based on the true account of author Sarafino Enadio’s escape from Sudan during the Sudanese civil war. The novel is written through the eyes of the protagonist, a fifteen year old boy called Obulejo. His name means ‘Trouble Tomorrow’.  

We first meet Obulejo when the Rebel soldiers storm into his village. This event is the first of many attacks from Rebel soldiers. Obulejo is separated from his family when he is sent to boarding school, but future attacks force him to abandon his schooling and flee from place to place in order to survive. Although he finds friends along the way, he realises that he needs to look after himself.

Obulejo’s journey leads him to a refugee camp in Kenya. Here, he struggles with many issues, including those relating to friendship, death/loss of loved ones, guilt, and religion. Obulejo resorts to violence, stealing, and bullying in order to obtain food and water to survive. He struggles with his choices as they go against his religion and upbringing.


Wing Jones

Small Wing JonesAuthor: Katherine Webber
Publisher: Walker Books (2017), 378 pages
RRP: $16.99

Wing Jones is the debut young adult novel by American author Katherine Webber. Following a somewhat familiar narrative, protagonist Wing doesn’t particularly enjoy high school. As the younger sister hiding in the shadows of her popular older brother, she encounters bullying in the corridors daily. Wing doesn’t do particularly poorly in class, but she isn’t outstanding either. It isn’t until tragedy strikes the family that Wing finds her stride in school, and amongst her peers and family. During midnight adventures, accompanied by her guardian dragon and lioness, Wing discovers a passion, and innate ability, for running. And it is the rhythm of her feet on the pavement that steadies Wing through the troubles she encounters.