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Why we took the car – Wolfgang Herrndorf, Tim Mohr (translator)

A beautifully written, darkly funny coming-of-age story from an award-winning, bestselling German author making his American debut.

Mike Klingenberg doesn’t get why people think he’s boring. Sure, he doesn’t have many friends. (Okay, zero friends.) And everyone laughs at him when he reads his essays out loud in class. And he’s never invited to parties – including the gorgeous Tatiana’s party of the year.

Andre Tschichatschow, aka Tschick (not even the teachers can pronounce his name), is new in school, and a whole different kind of unpopular. He always looks like he’s just been in a fight, his clothes are tragic, and he never talks to anyone.

But one day Tschick shows up at Mike’s house out of the blue. Turns out he wasn’t invited to Tatiana’s party either, and he’s ready to do something about it. Forget the popular kids: Together, Mike and Tschick are heading out on a road trip. No parents, no map, no destination. Will they get hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere? Probably. Will they meet crazy people and get into serious trouble? Definitely. But will they ever be called boring again?

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Shahana By Rosanne Hawke

shahanaThis is an outstanding first entry in the ‘Through My Eyes’ series for readers.   It takes place in Kashmir, which as one of the longest-running but least-understood modern conflicts. Hawke brings her extensive knowledge of the region to the story of Shahana, a 13-year-old orphan living with her younger brother in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who risks everything to help a boy from the other side of the border. Their journey is a powerful one, capturing the hardship and humanity of life in a war zone and the difficult choices children face while trying to survive.  Hawke doesn’t shy away from the terrible realities of growing up in a place where existence is fragile and exploitation is rife.

This is a wonderful book with some sadness as well.   It also hopefully makes us think of how lucky we are to be New Zealanders