Marriages, Rescues and Just Because You’re You

These books were reviewed on ABC Radio Canberra Drive Show with Louise Maher on Tuesday September 14 2010

Books reviewed by Deborah Abela, National Literacy Ambassador and

Author of Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit (Soccer Legend) series, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen and Grimsdon.

Because You Are With Me written and illustrated by Kylie Dunstan

(Hachette Children’s Books)

Picture Book

Even as adults there are times when we feel we can conquer the world as long as there is someone nearby who loves us. This beautiful collection of brave words is about a young girl who declares, ‘I can do anything!’ from walking down the hall in the dark, to eating all her vegetables and riding her bike down an enormous hill, but she can only do it because her dad is close by ready to hold her hand, cuddle her and be there in case she needs him. This is a simple declaration of love from a small girl to her dad, beside whom anything can be achieved. Each page is a maze of colour and text, with the pictures being formed by carefully torn paper creating a young girl full of life and optimism and a bespectacled dad who lifts her above the surface of the deep end of the pool, holds her close when she is scared and stands by ready to catch her in case she falls. Cute, colourful and simply lovely.

Girl Saves Boy written by Steph Bowe

(Text Publishing)

Young Adults

It’s not only the fact that Steph Bowe is 16 that makes this book so arresting. From the heart-aching words of the prologue to the quiet musings of two teenagers on a beach at the end facing an impossibly unfair future, this book is a rare treat of gentle quiet, big-hearted sweetness and great slabs of uncomfortable truths. Ten years ago something happened to Jewel Valentine’s family that tore them apart. She was sent to live with her grandparents while her parents’ lives crumbled. Now that her grandparents are dead, Jewel has moved back to her childhood town to live with her estranged and slightly-more-together mother. But the hurts still run deep. Jewel meets Sasha, a boy she saves from drowning in a lake. An instant connection is made, leading to a tenuous friendship. But their families keep behaving strangely, making relating to them almost impossible and Sasha has a terrible secret he needs to tell Jewel, but is afraid how she’ll react. Even though this world keeps dealing unfair hands, the warmth of the characters and the musings about life lift this novel above the bleak to something fresh and unique.


Marrying Ameera written by Rosanne Hawke

(Angus and Robertson)

Young Adults

Ameera is the seventeen-year-old daughter of a father from Pakistan and a mother from Australia. Having agreed to raise their daughter as a Muslim, there have been few clashes in the raising of Ameera and her brother, until now. Forbidden to associate with men outside her family, Ameera becomes attracted to her friend’s brother, Tariq, but when her father hears she’s been seen at the same party as him, he sends her to Pakistan to help with the wedding of her cousin. It is only after she arrives that Ameera slowly realises the marriage is for her and has been arranged by her father. Ameera manages to sneak a message to her brother and Tariq and is contacted by a man called Frank from the Forced Marriage Unit who agrees to try and help her escape. But will he be in time to save her before the wedding? And what happens if he arrives too late? This book is written with an insightful eye and warm respect for both sides of the cultural line Ameera straddles, but as the race to save her from a forced marriage quickens, the tension is white-knuckled. Rosanne has visited Pakistan several times, once for seven years, but it was during a trip in 2006 that she met a man from the Forced Marriage Unit in the British Consulate and the idea for this novel began.




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