Review Blog

Oct 10 2011

A straight line to my heart by Bill Condon

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Allen and Unwin, 2011. ISBN 978 174237 730 8
(Ages 12+) Highly Recommended. Humour. Romance. I did not want to leave this book or its characters.
Tiff has finished school, and is doing some work experience at the local country newspaper, where she feels she is not up to the job. The old journalist called the Shark, her supervisor is difficult, evasive, sometimes disparaging and often distant, and she wonders whether she will even finish the week.
She lives with her mother's sister's old friend, Reggie, and his son, Bull, and this pair has been her family since her mother died. Her best friend, Kayla lives with her mum and two of her siblings, the other two being in care. Mum has just announced that she and her new boyfriend, Colin, a much younger man, are about to marry and move to Perth, taking Kayla with them. Tiff is distraught, she and Kayla have been friends since time began and neither can imagine life without the other. In the meantime, Tiff has met Davey a boy from the next town, who is a stop and go worker with the council.
The lives of these people matter to the reader as they cope with the stresses and strains of life. Bull has a new girlfriend and Tiff wonders what will happen to the family if she moves in: Reggie is ill, and Tiff is concerned about what will happen if his test results are not good: while keeping her head above water in the tense atmosphere of a newspaper room makes Tiff wonder about what she will do with her life. All of these conspire to make this a keenly felt and funny story about a very ordinary group of people, coping with the life given them. At a time of immense changes in her life, Tiff must work out what is important as well as who matters,
This book is a breath of fresh air. It is a story grounded in the realities of life in Australia today, with none of the contrived situations usually offered, and with a deft touch of humour that underlines the relationships between all members of the different families. It speaks of not giving up, of trying again, of not being restricted by mistakes made in the past, it celebrates the family and friendships, of change and permanence, a wholly satisfying read.
Fran Knight

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