An #ownvoices story about the shooting of a young, unarmed black boy by a white police officer, and the teen girl torn between her two lives (one in a wealthy, mostly white private school, and one in her impoverished, largely black neighbourhood) as she decides how to use her voice to seek justice. I feel months behind the rest of the world in reading this, but better late than never! As a (former) teacher, my first thought is that this should be in as many classrooms as To Kill a Mockingbird has been, and then some. It took me a little while to get into it at first, because after so many rave reviews I think I must have been expecting something perfect, and there's no such thing. At times conversations felt like a contrived way to get a message across, but it's an important message. The story itself was fairly straightforward (and sadly familiar), but the characterisation made it shine. People - black and white - were on full display, with their fears, hopes, prejudices, loves, strengths, faults, ideals and failures. Definitely a must-read for adults and teens for many years to come.
I read this in a day, which is quick for me, and should indicate how much I enjoyed it. Three boys lose their best friend in an unfortunate accident, and must learn how to carry on life in their exclusive Sydney private school without him. Tagged "the swimmer", "the rebel" and "the nerd", in the beginning those labels are all they think of one another, and they had nothing in common except Isaac. But as Kostakis so beautifully demonstrates, people are complex and unique, and as the story goes on all three are able to see and appreciate each other more fully. Relationships (friendships, families, and romance) are expertly drawn and the grief each boy feels is a permanent feature as life goes on. This book reads very true to life, with positive messages about self-identity and accepting different people. After seeing a bit of stuff about how this book (& subsequently Kostakis’s sexuality) has been received by certain private schools, I was expecting more of a gay love story,but that’s really not what this book is about. Yes, one of the boys is gay, but it’s his grief, fear, acceptance and friendships that drive the story, not his sexuality. A great book from a great #loveOzYA author.