In a dark future how do you survive?

the sky so heavyTITLE = THE SKY SO HEAVY

AUTHOR = CLAIRE ZORN

GENRE = FUTURE, VIOLENCE, SURVIVAL, FRIENDSHIP 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

This is an exciting story of survival which also gives the reader plenty to think about. The opening line takes us straight into a dramatic situation and awakens a strong sense of peril and fear. And then we go back to find out what brought the narrator, Fin to this urgent situation.

And it all began on what seems like a typical day in the life of teenaged Fin: catching the bus to school, trying to chat with his crush (Lucy), listening to his teachers waffle about the world outside their own Blue Mts. At home, his brother clashes with his father and step-mum, so the boys are left on their own … and that’s when the horrifying adventure really begins.

In an apocalyptic future, Fin and his brother Max must face the danger alone. The power goes almost instantly so any chance of communication with the outside world is immediately restricted. It becomes a daily battle to keep warm and feed themselves, let alone entertain themselves… as they wait for dad to come home …or to be rescued.

Fin is a decent and responsible lad but even he can be pushed to extremes when faced with the mammoth job of keeping his brother alive and safe. Suddenly Fin decides to take action in a morally questionable way … this leads the way for a clever and thought-provoking strand to develop in this novel. For the story gradually raises questions about actions and consequences: does the end always justify the means? Does the fight for survival give one the right to hurt others? How far is too far?

Fin joins forces with Lucy and another boy from their school whose religious leanings provoke some of the moral questioning. Fin is a credibly flawed character who faces great odds and readers will be truly engaged in his story.

Shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers), this book was announced as AN HONOUR BOOK!! CONGRATULATIONS TO CLAIRE ZORN.

Recommended (dma) ****

A sad and moving road trip with a difference

TITLE = WHILE WE WERE TWO

AUTHOR = ROBERT NEWTON

GENRE = FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, LOSS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9

This is a genuinely moving story – in fact, be warned, a tissue box will definitely be needed as you read the last few pages! Dan has decided to leave home: Mum left some time ago and it is clear that home life with his angry father has not been a lot of fun. At first, Dan isn’t too happy that his younger brother, Eddie, has decided to tag along. Eddie is a sweet kid and it is obvious that Dan is very protective of him but he is also afraid that Eddie will slow him down.  Eddie is a tad slow in more ways than one but he is a kind hearted young lad and as the 2 boys make their way towards the coast, we soon see that the brothers are very close to each other. We also see that not all those people that the boys meet along their travels are kind to Eddie or good people. We learn the story behind Eddie’s slowness, the cause of his apparent brain damage and the impact that has had on Dan’s life – the burden he carries and the strength it has given him. Whilst Dan’s aim may to find their mother and reunite the family, he coaxes Eddie along with stories of joining the war effort and becoming soldiers. That’s if they can make it to the coast without mishap…

There are genuinely funny moments in this book and some wonderful glimpses into Australian life at a particular period in time but at its heart this is a tender story of two brothers and the ties that bind them together … and what might happen if they are torn apart.

Read about Robert Newton’s inspiration for writing this story here.

Shortlisted for CBCA Book of the Year 2012 (Older Readers)

 

 

Recommended (dma) ****

Being brave and falling in love

when dogs cryTITLE = When dogs cry

AUTHOR =Markus Zusak

GENRE =Growing up, Identity, Family relationships, Romance

INTEREST LEVEL =Years 10 and up

Cameron Wolfe comes from a struggling, working class family. Whilst he might not always see eye to eye with his brothers, he will fight to the death to support them if attacked by others. He is the youngest in the family and seems to be always in their shadow – a fact of which he is aware. He is desperate to find his way in the world and desperate to find love and this novel record his journey towrads both. AS he starts to write down his feelings, Cameron finds through the written word and poetry he can articulate some of the unruly feelings inside himself. The inner howling begins to make more sense. And as he takes his first tentative steps with a girl rejected by his brother, Cameron also begins to fall in love and feel even better about himself.

Gradually, his older brothers see that Cameron is someone of whom they can feel proud – and more importantly, Cameron begins to see this in himself, too.

This is a beautifully written book but may present a challenge for some readers, with the inclusion of poetry and symbolism. However, this beauty is matched by a very credible and often raw portrait of the violence and reality of the working class family.

Interesting review and biographical details provided in this article from Answers.com

Another great synopsis and review

A worthy CBCA Honour book (OR – 2002)

Recommended (dma) ****