PASSIONATE ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Tag: Poverty

Book Review: We’ll Fly Away

We’ll Fly Away – Bryan Bliss – Greenwillow Books – Published 8 May 2018

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Synopsis

Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling.

My thoughts

We’ll Fly Away is a well-written, hard-hitting YA novel with important messages about poverty, child abuse, the justice system, and friendship. I knew We’ll Fly Away would be heartbreaking. I also expected it to be raw, upfront, exposed, and almost crude. It certainly is an unflinching book, with threads of hope (but mainly heartbreak) and a positive message.

Luke and Toby are best friends – the only ones to see inside the truths of the other’s life, the only ones who could understand. But Luke struggles to maintain his wrestling record for a college scholarship with his mother’s ever increased neglect and caring for his two younger brothers, and Toby falls into a relationship with an older woman while continuing to face his father’s abuse. Events will come to a head as the boys fight for their friendship, their future, and their freedom.

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Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King

The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner – Penguin Random House UK Children’s – Published 8 March 2016

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Synopsis

Dill’s father is in jail for an unspeakable crime. Shunned by the neighbours in their small religious Tennessee town, Dill and his mother try to make ends meet.  Dill’s only respite from poverty and prejudice are his two friends: Lydia and Travis. Travis is an oddball, finding sanctuary from his violent father in his obsession with an epic fantasy saga. Lydia is fast-talking and fiercely creative, pinning her hopes on her achingly cool fashion blog. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life in New York.

Dill wants to get through his final year of high school in one piece. But there’s a dark secret at the heart of his family, a serpent poisoning his blood, filling him with despair. Dill must confront this legacy of madness and desperation before it tears him apart.

My thoughts

The Serpent King is an emotional and touching novel. Three friends together experience loss, the trials of social segregation, and hope and trepidation for the future. Set in rural Tennessee, Lydia, Dill and Travis fight for their futures against the backdrop of Southern charm and prejudice.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. The summary suggested a book about friendship, and it certainly is the focus of this book, but it is also about love, coming of age, and fighting the demons that seek to steal your light. It was surprising and totally engrossing.

Lydia, Dill and Travis are a strong trio of friends and yet they are totally disparate. The book cycles through each of their perspectives in short chapters, sometimes picking up right where one leaves off, providing a wonderful insight into each of the main characters’ heads and hearts.    Continue reading

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