BOOK CLUB

IF YOU’RE HAN­KER­ING FOR A HOME­GROWN RO­MANCE, YOU’LL LOVE AUSSIE AU­THORS VANESSA MCCAUSLAND AND ALEXAN­DRA JOEL

Central and North Burnett Times - - WEEKEND -

THE YEAR WE FELL FROM SPACE

Amy Sarig King TEXT, $17

When Lib­erty Jo­hansen looks at the night sky, it’s a new world ev­ery night — what will she see in the pat­terns of the stars and the plan­ets this time? Her maps find new in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery time. But then her mum and dad sep­a­rate. Astron­omy was some­thing she shared with her dad, and sud­denly he is no longer there. As her world falls apart, so does her abil­ity to make sense of the night sky. Now she never sees her dad, her mum is sad, her lit­tle sis­ter is scared, and the kids at school are be­ing mean. Lib­erty has to find a way past her anger and her dream that her par­ents could get back to­gether again. But she also has a big se­cret she does not want to tell. Amy Sarig King shows skill and em­pa­thy in tack­ling the dif­fi­cult and emo­tion­ally fraught jour­ney kids can face through their par­ents’ di­vorce. She man­ages to cre­ate an ac­ces­si­ble and en­gag­ing story about se­ri­ous men­tal health is­sues in young teens, which is no easy feat.

CORINNA HENTE

VER­DICT: Shin­ing bright

THE LOST SUM­MERS OF DRIFT­WOOD

Vanessa McCausland HARPER­COLLINS, $30

Don’t sell this Aussie ro­mance short by judg­ing it by its flow­ery cover. Mem­o­ries of child­hood sum­mers and first love in a fic­tional river­side NSW town, com­bined with fam­ily tragedy and un­cer­tainty, set up a read with much more sub­stance. The book fol­lows Phoebe who has es­caped to the city, chas­ing a ful­fill­ing ca­reer, mar­riage and the ap­proval of her im­age­con­scious mother and sis­ter Camilla. But the pur­suit of those goals is tainted by the shock loss of an­other sis­ter, Karin. Try­ing to make sense of her life and plagued by doubts about Karin’s death, Phoebe re­turns to the ne­glected fam­ily cot­tage seek­ing alone time and com­fort. She re­dis­cov­ers a teenage lover at a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty called Drift­wood (hence the ti­tle) and starts to un­ravel se­crets Karin took to her grave. Chief among those is why Karin was found in the river when she feared wa­ter. Vanessa McCausland, a jour­nal­ist by trade, is a nat­u­ral sto­ry­teller who weaves love, loss, mys­tery and se­crets into a sat­is­fy­ing tale. CA­RINA BRUCE

VER­DICT: Easy read­ing

THE DEVIL UP­STAIRS

An­thony O’Neill BRIO BOOKS, $30

Cat Thomas is a hard-nosed Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tor with a big bank, who moves to his­toric Ed­in­burgh to take up a new job. She loves her new flat, ex­cept for the rude neigh­bour up­stairs who makes her life hell by mak­ing noise that keeps her up all night. In des­per­a­tion, she ac­cepts help from a friend who takes her to a seance, where she lit­er­ally makes a deal with the devil. Mel­bourne-born, Ed­in­burgh-based An­thony O’Neill has writ­ten a book that feels like a crime thriller with fan­tasy over­tones. It works well. The pas­sages where Cat is lis­ten­ing to the noises up­stairs are just plain ir­ri­tat­ing but once you get past that, you see the moral dilemma Cat has cre­ated for her­self. The love in­ter­est in­tro­duced late seems a lit­tle un­der­done but those quib­bles aside, it’s an en­ter­tain­ing read that’s writ­ten with a lov­ing eye on the ar­chi­tec­ture of Ed­in­burgh and with some in­ter­est­ing, well-de­vel­oped char­ac­ters.

ELLEN WHINNNETT

VER­DICT: En­ter­tain­ing

THE PARIS MODEL

Alexan­dra Joel HARPER­COLLINS, $33

The adage that truth is stranger than fic­tion is no more apt than in Alexan­dra Joel’s de­but novel. Set post-World War II, it fol­lows glam­orous Aussie Grace Woods, who goes from work­ing on a sheep sta­tion into a prized job as a man­nequin for Parisian fash­ion de­signer Chris­tian Dior. At first glance, Grace’s new ca­reer lets her flee heartache in Aus­tralia. But as she steps out with France’s rich and fa­mous, there is still no es­cap­ing fam­ily se­crets and a com­plex per­sonal life that may also threaten her safety. Joel uses her ex­pe­ri­ence as a fash­ion edi­tor to set up Grace’s glam world, even drop­ping in fa­mous names from the era, such as artist Pablo Pi­casso, philoso­pher Jean Paul Sartre and fu­ture US First Lady Jac­que­line Bou­vier (Kennedy). A postscript from Joel adds spice to the story, re­veal­ing that Grace was a real-life Aus­tralian who de­fied per­sonal tragedy and drama to be­come an ac­claimed model. CA­RINA BRUCE

VER­DICT: True in­spi­ra­tion

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