Every Time You Go Away
– Abigail Johnson –
Published 5 December 2023
Abigail Johnson writes the most beautiful stories of resilient characters. She’s one of my favourite authors. And I’ve always wondered if she would ever write a story with a wheelchair using character, being a wheelchair user herself. She is very clear, this is not autobiographical, but she brings the same depth, heart and beautiful writing style to this story as she has done with all her previous books. I loved every page of Every Time You Go Away.
Wild Things: How We Learn To Read and What Can Happen If We Don’t
– Sally Rippin –
Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
Published 21 September 2022
Wild Things is a book all teachers, librarians and parents should read. Sally Rippin writes with candour and honesty as she draws upon her knowledge as a writer, her research into reading and literacy, and her experience learning to understand her son’s dyslexia and ADHD and his challenges in the school system that failed to support his learning needs.
The First Thing About You
– Chaz Hayden –
Published 6 September 2022
The First Thing About You is a funny and honest story about friendship, falling in love for the first time and finding your way as you grow up.
Harris and his family have just moved to New Jersey. For Harris, it’s a fresh start. No longer will he only be known as the guy in the wheelchair. It’s his time to break out of the box people put his in when they first see him. First thing on his list is a new aide to join him at school instead of his mother. Miranda is a young nursing student and seems to understand the real Harris. As Harris befriends the geeky Zander and the boys on the football team, he is also drawn to Nory. But friendship and love is hard to get right and Harris must learn to see beyond his own expectations, just as he wants others to do with him.
– Monica Roe –
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published 15 March 2022
Air is a powerful and impressive middle grade novel about finding your voice and following your dream, while managing the transition to high school, friendship, adults who think they know best and the ways society limits the potential of all.
Air is a book I’m going to force upon a lot of people. Staff and teachers at my school, my principal, students. It’s a book I think everyone should read. The author so perfectly captures Emmie’s voice. That of a young girl who has just started seventh grade. She loves racing and jumping on ramps in her wheelchair. Chair skating. She’s an athlete and entrepreneur. She and her best friend run a small business selling plants and wheelchair bags. Emmie is saving up for a new wheelchair, one that is made for skating. But when she takes a fall at school – totally not her fault! – her new principal demands that she has a full time aide. Emmie is horrified. When the principal announces that the school plans to raise money to buy Emmie her new chair, she’s super excited, but it seems it might come at a cost and she has to decide what she wants and how to speak up for herself.
Everything I’ve Never Said – Samantha Wheeler – University of Queensland Press – Published 1 October 2018
Ava would like nothing more than to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister, Nic. But Ava has Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, can’t nod her head, can’t even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no one understands her.
When tragedy strikes her family, Ava becomes even more determined to talk. But it’s not until she meets occupational therapist Kieran and new friend Aimee that she is hopeful for change – and to find her voice at last.
Everything I’ve Never Said is beautifully written and so very easily captured my heart. I loved the idea – giving voice to the voiceless, and the honest, heartfelt truth and reality behind the words is undeniable.
Ava would love to talk to her family. She’d love to tell them she likes pink not purple. She’d love to say that she would rather watch teen movies than kid shows. And she’d really love to tell them that she loves them. But Ava has Rett syndrome and so Ava can’t move her body the way she would like to, can’t nod, blink, wave and certainly can’t talk. When tragedy strikes her family and throws life into chaos, Ava knows she must talk, must help save her family. With the help of new friends, Kieran and Aimee, Ava just might have the chance to find her voice and tell the world, tell her family, everything she’s always wanted to say.
How We Roll – Natasha Friend – Farrar Straus Giroux – Published 5 June 2018
Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.
I devoured How We Roll in a matter of hours. I enjoyed this sweet story, with its gentle message of resilience, bravery, acceptance and friendship.
Quinn is ready for a new start, and her family moving to a new town for her brother, who has autism, to attend a new school, provides Quinn with the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button. Leaving behind the nasty rumours and ex-best-friends, Quinn uses the new school and new wigs to hide her alopecia. But old habits die hard and Quinn finds it hard not to be weary of her new friends. When Quinn meets Nick, an angry teen who lost both his legs in an accident, she connects with him, even if she doesn’t reveal her full story.
I Am Still Alive – Kate Alice Marshall – Viking Books – Published 24 July 2018
Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive–for now.
Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
I Am Still Alive is a pulse-pounding survival novel, epic and wild. There is no better beginning to an action adventure story than the character informing the reader that they are still alive when they should be dead. The prologue certainly gets the heart racing and it had me hooked on Jess’s story.
Before, Jess has been flown to the middle of nowhere to live with her dad. Injured from the car accident that killed her mother, the last place she wants to be is living in the wilderness with a man she hardly knows. After, Jess is alive – barely. She must rely on her basic knowledge of the forest to build shelter, hunt for food and survive, with nothing but her dad’s dog, an empty rifle, a bow and quiver of arrows and her wits.
The Season of You and Me – Robin Constantine – Balzer+Bray – Published 10 May 2016
Cassidy Emmerich is determined to make this summer—the last before her boyfriend heads off to college—unforgettable. What she doesn’t count on is her boyfriend breaking up with her. Now, instead of being poolside with him, Cass is over a hundred miles away, spending the summer with her estranged father and his family at their bed-and-breakfast at the Jersey Shore and working as the newest counselor at Camp Manatee.
Bryan Lakewood is sick of nevers. You’ll never walk. You’ll never surf. You’ll never slow dance with your date at prom. One miscalculated step and Bryan’s life changed forever—now he’s paralyzed and needs to use a wheelchair. This is the first summer he’s back at his former position at Camp Manatee and ready to reclaim some of his independence, in spite of those who question if he’s up for the job.
Cass is expecting two months dealing with heartbreak.
Bryan is expecting a summer of tough adjustments.
Neither of them is expecting to fall in love.
If the publishers had left the summary at that first paragraph I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book. A girl getting over a heartbreaking breakup…that alone is not enough to make me want to read a book. But a character coming to terms with a tough, life-changing situation such as, say, never walking again, is much more my thing.
Unfortunately, the focus of the book was much more on Cassidy’s story of heartbreak and her inability to let go of her ex. I enjoyed Bryan’s chapters, liked him as a character and wished the book was more focused on his journey, but I just could not relate to Cassidy. Poor, whinny, heartbroken, devastated, I-just-can’t-say-no-to-him Cassidy. If you are looking for a strong, resilient heroine look elsewhere. Continue reading