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Showing posts from August, 2014

August 2014

Wintergirls (Laurie Halse Anderson)In this sombre tale on the tragedy of eating disorders, Lia struggles with the crushing isolation of her anorexia, distance from her family and the guilt and confusion that comes after a friend dies of bulimia.
Lia’s estranged best friend, Cassie, dies of complications of bulimia after leaving 33 messages on Lia’s mobile phone asking for help.  Lia is left struggling with guilt over her choice to ignore the calls, and also the secret knowledge that she was sabotaging Cassie’s quest to recover from bulimia.
Lia’s self-hatred is such that she absolutely can’t and won’t listen to the voice inside telling her to eat.  She also struggles with family, both wanting to make them happy but fighting against the anorexia telling her to hide her true self and remain independent. Beneath the disturbing narrative that documents the erosion of Lia’s life from anorexia, the moral of listening to your true voice, speaking of your troubles, and seeking help and connecti…

August 2014

Head of the River (Pip Harry)Leni and Cris are rowers and twins, and with Olympic rowers as parents, the twins see competition in everything.  Rife with sporting metaphors, the clear message of this story is the price you are willing to pay to win. 
The book charts the slow decline of each character as they continue to sacrifice their true identities to “win at all costs”.  Leni cuts herself off emotionally from friends and family in the belief that frivolity does not fit with perfection.  When Cris starts struggling emotionally and physically to stay on top, he chooses to take steroids, despite knowing how ashamed his parents would be.
As events progress, each character slowly realises their choices are actually making them miserable.  It is only after some choices lead to unintended (and tragic) consequences that both characters begin to understand their true selves, and what brings them happiness.

August 2014

Our Little Secret (Allayne Webster)Set in small town America, this novel focuses on the destructive power of secrets, a lack of honesty with oneself, and how keeping secrets can allow exploitation to thrive. 
Narrated against the backdrop of the recent rape of a young girl, Edwina finds herself flattered by the attentions of older boy, Tom.  Despite the incessant gossip surrounding the recent rape, Edwina does not recognise when her own experiences with Tom venture into the same dangerous territory.
In her interactions with Tom, Edwina learns to quell the inner voice telling her to stop.  Keeping her experiences a secret, she does not understand she has been “raped” until she finally, reluctantly, confides in an adult.  The message here is clear – holding onto secrets can be extremely destructive, and healing can come from listening to your inner voice, and speaking the truth.


August 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)A strong tale on truth, identity, empathy, and the wisdom of listening to your own internal voice, this simply written tale explores a number of moral themes. 
9 year old Bruno struggles to accept a disappointing new reality when his father’s mysterious job takes them to “Out-With” because “The Fury” has deemed it so.  Bored and unhappy, Bruno explores his surrounds, and in so doing befriends Shmuel, one of the mysterious people in striped pyjamas who lives “on the other side of the fence”.
Through his explorations Bruno learns of the ability to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” and understand that people are not always as they appear.  The tale ends with the terrible consequences of what can happen when the innocence of the young is perpetuated by adults hiding the truth, as Bruno takes a tragic final step towards understanding Shmuel’s position.