The January Stars – Kate Constable – Allen & Unwin – Published 31 March 2020
When twelve-year old Clancy and her fourteen-year-old sister, Tash, visit their Pa at his aged-care facility, they have no idea that the three of them will soon set out on an intrepid adventure.
Along the way there are many challenges for Tash and Clancy to overcome and in the process, they discover their own resourcefulness and resilience and demonstrate their heartfelt love for their grandfather.
A delightful Australian middle-grade fiction, The January Stars combines a heist (sort of) with a magical (maybe?) journey across Melbourne, that results in a extraordinary story about family, listening and the stars.
When 12-year-old Clancy’s parents leave on an emergency family trip to New Zealand, she and her older sister Tash convince their parents they will be fine to stay with their aunt. But when their aunt also leaves on a trip, the girls find themselves alone. They decide to visit their grandfather in his aged-care facility and thanks to a slight incident with a cat, an open door, runaway residents and an angry nurse, the girls find themselves on the run with their Pa. The girls must pool their resources and shelve their constant fighting if they are going to outrun the growing amount of adults that seem to be chasing them, including an irate real estate agent and the police.
I was totally hooked by the idea of a story in which two young girls steal their grandfather from a nursing home. It was utterly delightful from start to finish. Clancy and Tash manage to accidentally break their Pa out and he couldn’t be happier. After suffering a stroke, Godfrey can’t speak much and relies on a wheelchair to get around but he is plenty able to communicate his happiness to run away with the girls. They start by visiting their old family home and venture from there as various adults challenge them.
Waiting For Fitz – Spencer Hyde – Shadow Mountain – Published 5 March 2019
Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.
When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. He loves puns, foreign films, and T-shirts with witty sayings. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.
Fitz is haunted by his past, and he’s often not sure what’s real. One memory weighs heavily on his mind—a tragic death he fears he may have caused—but he knows if he can just get to San Juan Island, everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.
Escaping the hospital becomes the first step of a journey for Fitz and Addie as they learn about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and what’s necessary to let go and what’s worth waiting for.
Waiting For Fitz is author Spencer Hyde’s debut novel. Drawing from his own experience, Hyde has created a one-of-a-kind story about friendship, mental health and the value of waiting for the things you find are the most important.
Addie counts everything. Heartbeats, blinks, the number of times she washes her hands. When Addie’s mother suggests moving to a psychiatric ward to help control her OCD, Addie didn’t expect to make friends or to meet someone as special at Fitz. Fitz has schizophrenia and has spent the last two years on the ward. When he and Addie connect over their shared love of grammar and dry humour, he convinces Addie to help him break out of the ward to complete a special task.
Wishtree – Katherine Applegate – Charles Santoso (Illustrator) – Feiwel & Friends – Published 26 September 2017
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
“Trees can’t tell jokes. But they can certainly tell stories.”
I was in love it this book before I even read it. I loved the concept: a story about a tree with a story to tell, a story of friendship and acceptance, a story about community, dreams and, of course, wishes. And reading Wishtree only made me fall more in love.
Flight Season – Marie Marquardt – St Martin’s Press: Wednesday Books – Published 20 February 2018
Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.
But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.
As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.
Flight Season is a beautiful, heartbreaking book that had me smiling and laughing and crying, both despairing and rejoicing in humanity, and so happy just to spend a little time with these amazing characters.
Vivi Flannigan has returned home from college for the summer to pull her life together. If she can stick it out at her hospital internship she might have a slim hope of passing her semester’s courses. If she can help her mother get back on track, she might be able to save their home. And if she can avoid Old Town, she might have a slim chance of forgetting that one night she lost total control. TJ Carvalho has one last clinical placement to pass before he is done with his nursing studies. So when Vivi turns up in his ward, the girl who he witnessed have a complete meltdown, he does his best to avoid her. But when TJ and Vivi are forced to work together to care for heart patient Ángel, the three of them form a beautiful, if challenged, friendship, which just might change their lives in ways they could never have expected.