Rating: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Sonya Hartnett’s beautifully written YA novel is about ugly subjects. Hartnett, an Australian author, writes about the Jenson family, new arrivals to the unnamed Australian suburb, there they befriend the Kileys and an assortment of other boys who live in their neighborhood. The Jensons have money and just about every toy, game and bicycle any child would want to play with. Older son Colt Jenson knows why they had to move and why his father insists on buying all the newest toys. The Kileys, working-class at best, also harbor a dark secret. First-born Freya Kiley turns to Rex Jenson thinking he is a better father than her own.
The time period is unknown, there’s no mention of cell phones or the Internet, only the desire for the kids to be outside, riding their bikes, swimming in the Jensons new pool, exploring the drain…
The kids are on Christmas break and it being set in Australia, means that summer vacation has begun. That is one of the most interesting features of this book, the reader learns about life in Australia–the landscape, the foods, the language, a little of the slang.
This is one of the novels that could easily be appreciated by adults for its beautiful language, for example: “It’s late, not far from midnight, yet surely someone will notice a madman in a front garden and telephone the police. Surely somebody must hear their hearts.”
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book?/Readalikes Room by Emma Donoghue
Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Fiction, YA Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Maria Touet, Pope John XXIII High School, Everett, MA
Date of review: November 14, 2016