Tomorrow, When the War Began – The Movie


Tomorrow, When the War Began has been released in Australia.  It’s a film based on the first book in the Tomorrow series by Australian author, John Marsden.  The first reviews are also in, as you can read at The Sydney Morning Herald.  Quotes about the film include “long on action and short on drama” and “a briskly related adventure, with a good-looking young cast.” 

Marsden’s teen series features a dystopian future that has Australia being invaded by a military force from an unspecified country.  One of the big questions about the film is how race will be dealt with in the invaders since it was handled so vaguely in the books. 

Hush – Chilling Story of Abuse and Cover Up


Hush by Eishes Chayil

Gittel lives in the closed Chassidic community of Borough Park in New York City.  The rules of the Chassidic community are strict and clear.  Their lives are separate from modern technologies and a modern lifestyle.  Family is to be honored and respected.  Marriages are arranged by matchmakers and parents.  Children are treasured, but live with strict limitations.  When Gittel witnesses her friend being sexually molested by her older brother, the community shuts down any mention of the situation.  When the situation progresses to a horrible end, Gittel must decide what to do and whether to betray her family and community or her friend.  Painfully, it takes Gittel years to admit what she has seen and bring it to light.  This is a remarkable book that exposes shameful secrets in the Chassidic community while equally showing the positive side of their beliefs and lifestyle. 

This is Chayil’s own story, a Chassidic Jew who also witnessed a friend’s abuse.  Through her writing she has exposed her own pain and truth.  Chayil’s writing allows all readers to respect the beliefs of this community.  Gittel’s family is warm and wonderful, the ideal family to contrast against the strict beliefs and limitations.  They fairly glow with love, the perfect foil for the other family suffering the abuse.  Chayil’s writing is subtle and solid.  Firmly grounded in reality, it depicts the community with honesty, demonstrating how rules that protect can also become rules that restrict and bind.  What is most impressive is Chayil’s ability to show that the responses from various people change when they know the truth, have seen it before, and understand there is an issue.  The establishment is not the enemy here, ignorance is.

Gittel is a character that readers see grow from a young girl to a married teen.  Through it all, she struggles with the truth and her own guilt about the situation.  Her emotions are vivid and blazing, yet they ring with truth.  Other characters in the story are just as well written, such as Gittel’s parents and husband.

A brave and amazing book, this is a glimpse for readers into a closed society written by a woman who understands it well.  It is also a call for all of us to tell the truth to shout it out in order to save those who we love who are enduring the unimaginable.  Appropriate for ages 15-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Walker Books.

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters – Beauty and Depth

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

This is the second book from Standiford, who debuted with How to Say Goodbye in Robot.  It will be released this month.

When their grandmother, Almighty Lou, tells the family that she has been offended and will cut them out of the will unless a confession and apology is made, everyone knows that it must be one of the girls who offended her.  So the three teen Sullivan sisters write their confessions.  One girl confesses to being in love and not following expectations.  Another sister confesses to revealing family secrets online.  And the youngest sister admits to believing she was immortal with horrifying results.  The only question is whether it is the sisters who offended Almighty Lou and if so, which one was it?

Part of the pleasure of this book is discovering the secrets of the girls for yourself, which is why I made my summary so vague.  Each girl reveals inner thoughts, complicated emotions, and the struggles of not only adolescence but life.  Standiford has a smart, funny tone that imbues all of these girls and their thoughts.  It is a pleasure to read a fairly light novel that has depth and intelligence.  Even better, the girls are all bright and deep too.  Yet they act like teens, think like teens, and are teens completely. 

The characterization in the novel is nicely done for the three sisters in particular.  They speak with different voices, react to things in their own unique ways and are distinct and intriguing voices.  The parents are fascinating characters if a bit one-dimensional.  I kept hoping for a view of them beyond what we were seeing.  But that is a minor quibble.

A pleasure of a read, this book will do well with teens who enjoy general fiction.  The cover will draw in readers of books like the Gossip Girl series, who will discover a book with gorgeous girls AND depth.  Appropriate for ages 15-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

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Booktrust Early Years Winners

The Booktrust Early Years Award winners were announced last night.  The UK awards recognize excellence in books for children under five years old.

Best Book for Up to Five Year Olds

One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell

Best Emerging Illustrator for Children Up to Five

Levi Pinfold for The Django

Best Book for Babies Under One

I Love My Mummy by Giles Andreae


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