Review Blog

Jul 22 2011

The opposite of Amber by Gillian Philip

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Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 9780747599920.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. 'Words are powerful': Ruby tells us this at the beginning of the novel but it takes time to fully realize the truth of this statement. Ruby is careful with words, she uses them sparingly. Words change lives, words cause harm; silence is safer.
After their mother died, Ruby and her sister Jinn lived together in their council home. Although Jinn was only 19, she was caring and competent, and capably adjusted to running the household and caring for Ruby; at least she did, until Nathan Baird arrived on the scene.
One by one girls are taken. Murdered. The police know it is the same perpetrator, but he is clever. He leaves the girls in water, destroys all evidence. Ruby notices the girls, remembers reading the newspaper articles, knows how close to home the murders occur. She isn't scared: he murders prostitutes.
The Opposite of Amber is a powerful and absorbing novel. Ruby is a strong and self-reliant character who takes life seriously. She understands the impact one life can have on another. She understands the importance of choosing her words carefully and choosing when to stay silent.
Sue Mann

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