Quite by chance I have read a series of books recently which, whilst all being very different, have all had a spooky continuity. They have all asked questions about reality and identity, and involved stories about people trying to find themselves and get back home.
The first book, Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie, is based on an Australian television drama series [by Tony Ayres and Beth Frey] that won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Children’s Television Drama in 2013. It is a fantasy adventure about four very different teenage boys who spend a night in the bush when a school excursion goes wrong. But when they return home, they discover that they are trapped in a parallel world where no one recognises them and they no longer exist. What has happened? Is it magic? Is it demons? Why has this happened? and how are they going to get home?
The second book, Flip is Martyn Bedford“s first young adult novel [although he has published five novels for adults]. Flip is a much more intense psychological thriller about a boy called Alex who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped in the body of someone else; this person shares the same birthday but nothing else. He lives in very different part of the country, he has a sister not a brother, he is popular, he is good at sports and he has lots of girlfriends. Alex knows that at his core he is not Philip, or Flip, but where is his “unique inner essence”, is he really a “psychic evacuee” and how can he return to his family?
The third and final novel I read was More Than This by Patrick Ness. It has been described as a “tense thriller” about “love and survival.” Our copy in the library has a lovely message at the front of the book from the author especially for Australian and New Zealand readers! In it he explains that this book started as an idea in his head whilst he was in our “part of the world”. More Than This begins with Seth drowning; then he wakes up. Where is he? Is he in hell? Is he dreaming? Is he living in his imagination? Little by little we find out about Seth as he tries to reconcile his past with his present. I wont spoil your delight of discovery by telling you any more, but I would say that this book is perhaps the most demanding and challenging read of the three.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Adventure, Beth Frey, demons, Elise McCredie, Fantasy, Flip, Home, Identity, Magic, Martyn Bedford, More than this, Nowhere Boys, Patrick Ness, Thriller, Tony Ayres
Photo: MillionHoodies. Shadow. BW321 by Nakeva Corothers
Are you happy with who you are, in your own skin?
What about your name, are you happy with that, or does it let you down? I have a sister who hated her given name so much that she decided to change it. She wouldn’t answer anyone’s questions unless they used her new one…it worked!
How about your race, or the colour of your skin? Does this force you to live two lives (one at home and one at school) or have you found a way that’s right for you?
How about your body? Would you be more comfortable if you were taller and had more muscle? Perhaps you would feel better if your breasts were bigger, or smaller? Perhaps you can’t wait to get a piercing, dye your hair and get lots of tattoos.
And what about your gender? You are happy to be a guy, right? Being a girl is great isn’t it, or, is it?
What if you hate your body, your name is not right, and deep down inside you have always known that although your body is growing in one way, that gender is not who you are?
Meet the world of J … born a Puerto Rican girl living in New York City who knows he is a guy. He is angry, confused and misunderstood, and has no one he can trust with the truth, not even his best friend. School is a nightmare – they think he is a lesbian, they call him a dyke, and his parents have impossible expectations saving all their money so that their daughter can go to college. Puberty is tough, but this is way off the scale.
If you can identify with some of these issues you will find this a great read. Even if you have none of these issues, this book will make you feel that you are very lucky to have such an easy life. Either way, read this book, experience the pain and the hope, and understand that some people, in the words of Lady Gaga, are just “born this way.”
This story reminds me of Chaz Salvatore Bono, Cher’s son, who was born Chastity Sun Bono a girl and underwent a sex change. “At the time, Cher promised to support her child on his “difficult journey” and said she would “strive to be understanding”.”
Support and understanding are vital to us all. This was demonstrated recently (on the 17th April 2013) in New Zealand when members of parliament voted in favour of amending the 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry. After the votes had been read out people spontaneously started singing the Maori love song Pokarekare Ana
I wonder how J would have felt if his friends and family had celebrated the news of his transgender with a love song?
If you are interested to read what the author says about writing I am J
If you would like to read Cris Beam’s website see
Beach at night – Photo by Rina
Shift is a psychological thriller and I couldn’t put it down. It is the story about Olive, and when the book begins we know that there has been some sort of incident (we are not sure what) and she is trying to get back to some sort of normal routine at school by staying well away from “the queen bee” in class. But then strange and dangerous things start to happen. Are they real, or is Olive imaging them? As one character says:
“Some things aren’t straightforward. Not everything is true or false, real or imaginary, black or white. It’s not that simple.”
Get it from the library in print form, or download it, like I did, as an eBook at http://kingscollege.wheelers.co
And if you are intrigued to know more about the author Em Bailey then you can read her answers to Ten Terrifying Questions here on the Booktopia blog.