Review Blog

May 09 2012

Change the locks by Simon French

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Walker Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921720758.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Eleven year old Steven lives a precarious life in a rural town with his mother and baby brother. Money is tight and now that their car has been stolen, his mother is especially distracted. In fact, his mother hasn't had much time for anything or anybody since Darryl left. Steven is glad that Darryl has gone but also worries that he might come back. It seems that Steven always has something to worry about.
Disturbing memories from early childhood keep intruding into Steven's consciousness. His mother refuses to talk about the past other than to say that they lived in the city. Steven thinks she is hiding something, but why? A chance discovery provides some clues but there are still more questions than answers. He wants to talk to his mum but how can he do this without adding to her worries?
Steven is a very sensitive boy. He looks after his little brother when his mother seems incapable of doing so. He envies the home life of his friend Patrick and his warm and accepting parents. He likes living where he does but is fearful of the school bully and running into the undesirable friends of Darryl.
This book is a sensitive insight into the mind of a young boy reared in challenging and unsettling circumstances. Written by award winning author, Simon French, it was first published in 1991 however, its relevance remains constant. It has great potential to facilitate awareness of broader social issues such as teenage pregnancy and homelessness. Read aloud, it could be a great stimulus for class discussion.
Tina Cain

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