Blog Archives

Teenage territories, Barbara Else

Make a Hard Fist
Tina Shaw
One Tree House, $20.00,
ISBN 9780473421878

Ocean’s Kiss
Lani Wendt Young
One Tree House, $29.00,
ISBN 9780995106741

Whiti Hereaka
Huia, $25.00,
ISBN 9781775503347

To state the obvious, one problem with writing young adult fiction, unless the author is a teenager, is that one no longer belongs to the demographic. The first YA novel, The Outsiders, was written by S E Hinton when she was only 16, observer and participant. It feels timeless, undated, as fresh and authentic now as when first published in 1967. It still illuminates the way teenagers must find their own way to adulthood across territory that is a combination of the world around them and their own explosive emotions.

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Almost too true, Aleksia Drain

Fleur Beale
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760113780 

Lyla is a book written in raw truth. The story begins in a world of homework and the normal everyday life of a young schoolgirl named Lyla. She attends Avonside Girls’ High School and lives happily in the city of Christchurch. But then disaster strikes: an earthquake shakes the lives of every Christchurch citizen, turning us upside down into chaos. This book reveals the truth of the February Christchurch earthquake, the loss people faced, and the terrible things we saw. It brings a reader out of their world of media and newspapers and reveals the personal terrors one faced in that horrific time. 

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Life and death before 20, Angelina Sbroma

Catch Me When You Fall
Eileen Merriman
Penguin, $20.00,
ISBN 9780143770930

Ash Arising
Mandy Hager
Penguin, $20.00,
ISBN 9780143772439

Eileen Merriman’s Catch Me When You Fall – a title that provokes a head-tilt to begin with and that takes multiple possible meanings upon reading the book – is narrated by 17-year-old Alex Byrd, and it tells the story of a particular autumn (or fall, as they would say in America) in her life.

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Breath-taking, Feya Durkin

William Trubridge
HarperCollins, $40.00,
ISBN 9781775541134

Oxygen, by William Trubridge, is a breath-taking story about one man’s quest to push his body and mind to the absolute limits. Trubridge is a professional New Zealand freediver, and Oxygen tells the story of his early days, his discovery of freediving, his ride to success, and his quest to dive 100 meters below the surface of the ocean, equipped with nothing but a single breath (and a really tight wetsuit).

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

More than just the usual, Flora Fan

Pieces of You  Eileen Merriman Penguin Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9780143770473   Pieces of You is a typical YA coming-of-age novel that surprisingly offers more than a cliché. Not least, it is uniquely set in the familiar setting of Auckland.

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Wonderful New Zealand everydayness, Caitlin Walker

The Year of Falling Janis Freegard Mākaro Press, $35.00 ISBN 9780994106575 Selina’s life seems perfect. She’s got the job of her dreams, she and her boyfriend have been together for a record 18 months, and she’s got her health under

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

From a trio of veterans, Anna Mackenzie

The Severed Land Maurice Gee Penguin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143770244 Shooting Stars Brian Falkner Scholastic, $21.00, ISBN 9781775433606 Cool Nukes Des Hunt Scholastic, $20.00, ISBN 9781775433422 As a veteran of more than 50 years, Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Glory or gory? Caitlin Walker

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781776570072 Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told. One event,

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The challenge of being, Tatjana Schaefer

The Falconer’s Daughter N K Ashworth RSVP, $25.00 ISBN 9780987658760 Being Magdalene Fleur Beale Random House, $20.00 ISBN 9781775537670 It almost goes without saying that novels for the young adult or teen reader are about the quest for personal identity.

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Bringing the front line home, Sarah Dickson

Evie’s War 
Anna MacKenzie
Longacre, $20.00,
ISBN 9781775537656

Anna Mackenzie’s book gives the reader an insight into WWI through the perspective of Evie, an 18-year-old New Zealander living in England. Shortly after her family arrives there for their tour of Europe, war breaks out and Evie is introduced to a whole new world. She experiences first-hand the horrors inflicted on the men, along with the heartbreak and stress of serving in hospitals – both on the front line and in England. Through Evie’s experiences during the four years, Mackenzie is able to highlight the expectations of Evie and her associates during the war. We see the traditional views that her family holds about Evie’s responsibilities and others’ views about her capabilities.

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