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My sister Rosa – J Larbalestier

26465507 A compelling novel – reminiscent of ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ and just as disturbing. More so given the role of the adults in the novel.

Narrated by Che, the 17yr old brother of the title character, the narrative builds a picture of a disturbed young mind. It challenges us to consider the moral implications of knowing the truth and not speaking out.

I would recommend for a mature teen or senior school reader, due to the nature of the content.


What was never said – Emma Craigie

What was never said – deals with a practice carried out worldwide but reasonaby  unknown to many teenage NZ readers – female gential mutilation (FMG) – according to the World Health Organisation between 100-400 million women and girls are living with the consequences of FMG. The narrator, Zahra witnesses her sister die from  complications caused by a ‘primitive’ FMG ceremony.

When the family leave Africa and head to the UK, Zahra thinks that she will be safe from the practice carried out in her homeland. She wants to love and trust her parents and extended family – but it is only her ‘modern’ cousin, herself a survivor of FMG, who can save her in the end.

A very sensitive theme, dealt with in an honest and non dramatic way.

You can read more about this issue at Daughters of Eve

Love Letters to the Dead– Ava Dellaira

Laurel’s sister has died, her parents fail to cope with the tragedy and separate. In order to live as best she  can, Laurel makes the decision to change jpegschools for her senior years.

In her first English class she is asked to compose a letter to someone famous who has died.

The novel is her series of letters to the dead she has in some way made connections with – Kurt Cobain,  Amelia Earheart, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amy Winehouse, Judy Garland,Janis Joplin and the Allan  Lane (the voice of Mister Ed) .

Through these letters Laurel questions her own life. Her relationships with her parents; her relationship  with Sky, a boy she comes to trust and her relationship and role with her sister Amy, who she idolised.    Through these letters some of the ghosts of her past come to the surface and some disturbing truths are  revealed.

More suited to the senior reader

Out there – Simi Prasad

Image  Written by a very young (15) author,Out there is set in the near future, in a society where there are no    men. Since they were the cause of all the earth’s problems, one society decided to do away with them  altogether.

However, a generation later, science has to now populate Earth, as the surviving female colony cannot  populate itself.

Ava, daughter of the high ruler is chosen as the 2nd only young women for ‘re-population’. But what if  what they have been told is not true? What if, there are men out there who can be trusted? What if  scientific reproduction is not as secure as Ava is being told?

Aimed at a young teen audience, Out there, while not the most literary of reads, is still a good read.