Tomorrow When the War Began

Spoiler Alert: This text is studied in Year 9 English (CCAS & MC)

Tomorrow When the War Began - John Marsden

“Ellie and her friends leave home one quiet morning, wave goodbye to their parents, and head up into the hills to camp out for a while; seven teenagers filling in time during school holidays.
The world is about the change forever.
Their lives will never be the same again.
Would you fight? Would you give up everything? Would you sacrifice even life itself?”

A lot of Australians I know say that this is the first book they ever read and enjoyed, or that this series is what got them onto reading, or that to this day this series marks the only books they’ve ever read all the way through! I think that says a lot. When Marsden wrote these books, he also began to create a heritage of great Australian teen fiction. The setting and characters are so relatable and true to Aussie form, not only that but the questions and issues that he confronts head on were and are real questions and issues for real Australians now. It’s got action, suspense and of course a bit of romance, as the reality of teenage life cannot be extinguished, not even by a war. An exceptional story about courage, loyalty, heroism, friendship, love, war and all that makes us human.

Any high school reader. 4 stars.

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The Underdog

The Underdog - Markus Zusak

“Boys are like dogs – ready to bite, bark and beg to be given a chance to show their value… ‘I vowed that if I ever got a girl I would treat her right and never be bad or dirty to her or hurt her, ever.’ Cameron Wolfe is a dirty boy. He knows it. His brother Rube knows it, because he’s one too. THey could change – but what would it take?”

I like some of Zusak’s other books so I thought I’d give this one, aimed for a younger reading age, a try. It is very short, a mere 139 pages and very easy to read. Much like the blurb reveals, it is the musings of a teenage boy faced with the inevitable challenge of growing up. To be truthful, not much happens, but it is an interesting insight into the mind of a 14-year old boy. Cameron’s inner thoughts explore issues of lust, love and dating and contemplate the complexities of families, change and pain. What I really liked about the novel, what that the episodes of real life are intercut with descriptions of dreams that he has. It gives the book a unique voice and a layer of symbol and imagery that provides depth.

Not bad, very much an Australian coming of age book for a teen (13 – 16) audience. 3 stars.

Blueback

Blueback - Tim Winton

“Abel Jackson has lived by the sea at Longboat Bay ever since he could remember. He helps his mother each day and loves to dive. One day he meets Blueback, the biggest and most beautiful fish he’s ever seen.

When Abel’s mother is approached by developers she decides she must do something to protect their fragile piece of coastline. But can Abel and his mother save Blueback and Longboat Bay in time?”

Another great Australian book! Tim Winton brings us this beautiful story about a boy and the ocean. He paints a vivid picture of this serene and pristine ocean bay where Abel and his mother live in tune with their environment, a very different way of life than many of us. They face tragedy, joy, discovery and triumph while dealing with the issues of greed, environmental sustainability, family ties and resilience. It is a story that is insightful and moving as well as a gripping read.

Recommended for early high school readers. 3 1/2 stars.