The stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard : Exceptional and beautifully written new YA novel @AllenAndUnwin

Posted: January 22, 2016 in Secondary
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The Stars at Oktober Bend

By Glenda Millard

ISBN

9781743315897

Allen&Unwin

 

The Stars at Oktober Bend | FRONT COVER (20 October 2015)

 

 

This book blew me away. It will tear at your heart, pull it back in again and give you renewed hope that despite what life throws at you, life is ultimately good.

Alice is 15 years old and broken. After an assault, Alice is left with acquired brain injury which leaves her unable to talk. Her words stumble out slow and awkward, so she hardly talks to anyone except her brother Joey and her Gram. Joey is a wonderful supporting younger brother taking on responsibilities beyond his age. Their Gram is old and in very poor health and the rest of the family are gone. Alice also suffers from seizures – her electrics are broken, as she says so she doesn’t go to school. She stays home and writes the words she struggles to say. Alice writes beautiful poems that say so much more than she is capable of with speech. She leaves her poems in different places about town, hoping they might be found.

Manny is 16 years old and runs at night trying to block out the pain from when he was a boy soldier, before he came to this safe country. It is Manny who finds one of Alice’s poems and seeks to find out about the writer.

This book is both tender and terrifying. Alice and Manny hold secrets and truths from each other. Secrets so awful that I was moved to tears. Almost all of the characters are flawed but that is the reality of life. Their pain and grief is raw. I just wanted to hug them both and tell them things will be okay.

Alice’s poems flow with such ease when she writes but Manny can see beyond the poems and her brain injury. Theirs is a love story about hurt and hate but ultimately about healing. It is an incredibly powerful book.

The novel is written without capital letters and while it might seem strange at first, it works perfectly and as you read not only do you become accustomed to the style but you get to know Alice as she really is and bit by bit you see her change.

Seriously, when this comes out in February do look out for it. It deals with some tough issues but is beautifully written and it will leave an impact.

If you are using this in class I would certainly recommend the teaching notes on this link.

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