About Me

My photo
Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Torn Pages by Sally Grindley

Torn Pages (Bloomsbury, 2009)
   This book made me cry, over and over. But they weren't tears of hopelessness and despair at the young protagonist's miserable situation. They were tears where a smile shone through, with the promise of hope. Sally Grindley has done a terrific job of portraying the plight of children orphaned by AIDS in a village in rural Africa. Straight away we are taken into young Lydia's world of hardship, grief and hunger as she struggles to take on the role of parent to her two younger siblings. Lydia has little to remember her parents by, save for a diary in which her ailing mother wrote words of comfort and encouragement. 
   Poor Lydia has to give up school and outwit her proud and trecherous Grandmother who treats the children as pariahs. And then there is the new man to the village, Jabu, who keeps hanging around. What are his intensions?
   Torn Pages isn't an island story but it is a story about village life and family relationships. There is plenty here for Pacific Island students to relate to. There is water to fetch, a garden to tend and the all too familiar desperate search for transportation when loved ones are sick.
   Although this book is aimed at children in late primary school, I am sure older readers would enjoy it too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whale Pot Bay by Des Hunt

Whale Pot Bay
(Harper Collins, 2009)
Teenager Jake lives with his dad on a remote coastline in New Zealand where whales sometimes beach themselves. Their rich celebrity neighbour Milton Summer seeks seclusion, away from the media. Jake forms a friendship with Milton and teaches him to surf but the arrangement is shattered when a photographer tricks his way onto the property and reports the partnership in a trashy magazine. This is seemingly the end to the story but the plot takes off after this incident. A whale beaches itself in the bay and Milton, Jake and his family work together to rescue it and forge stronger ties. However they don't count on the deceitful tactics that the photographer uses to get information on tracking the whale.
   Kiwi author Des Hunt usually has a wildlife theme running through his books and Whale Pot Bay is no different. Hunt has obviously done a lot of research into not only current marine tracking technologies but also the history of whaling in New Zealand. 
   But this story isn't just a whale watching narrative. It is also action packed with both a photographer stalking Milton Summer and a menacing and violent gunman on the loose. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for secondary school students, particularly those interested in wildlife.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted by Alan Duff

What Becomes of the
(Random House, 1996)
What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted is the sequel to Once Were Warriors and Alan Duff just doesn't let up in his portrayl of a drunken, violent and disfunctional family. The book follows the fortunes of Maori man Jake Heke and his estranged wife and kids after the tragic climax of Once Were Warriors. Jake ends up sleeping on the streets and the gang culture is still part of his sons' lives. This book is just as shocking as the first but Duff takes the reader to such a depth of understanding and compassion for this damaged family that I found myself totally captured by his writing.
   Again he uses an odd style of limited punctuation that takes a few pages to adjust to, but once you get the rhythm of the voice you are spell-bound, right to the end. If you can put up with the violence and grasp the small snippets of hope that Duff throws out, then you will make it to the end, breathless and satisfied.
   I wouldn't recommend this one to young readers, the content is just too confronting. But many adults would no doubt enjoy it.