Review Blog

Aug 16 2012

Star by Catherine Bateson

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Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978 1 86291 981 5
(Ages: 10+) Recommended. Family. Star is in a muddle. She and her mother have had a close relationship since her father's death from cancer, and she has had a good friend at school, but now that friend has become a bully and Mum has allowed an old school friend, Charlie, to live with them after separating from his wife. His former wife and their two obnoxious children often visit, leaving Star as the babysitter, with promises thrown in as compensation. At school, Star has learnt to avoid the playground and the taunts of her former friend, and buries herself in books, particularly the books of an older generation, telling tales of boarding schools and horses. And so she settles on her aim of getting a horse.
This astute look at families and relationships had me intrigued from the start. Although I baulked at the selfishness of the adults, not responding to the problems Star is experiencing, she has an ally in Cara, Mum's good friend who lives close by. An ungodmother, she plays a pivotal role in Star's finding a way through the problems which have beset her life, and incidentally being a supportive friend to Star's mother.
Bateson is always able to develop families and their interwoven relationships with absolute certainty. Each person is a character in their own right, each one with foibles and characteristics which make them at once endearing and at times aggravating. A reader will sense from the start the dichotomy of feelings of all the main characters. Because they are so emotionally involved, their views of their future are often at odds with the other, resulting in conflicts of opinions which must be sorted out. Their shared future is neatly resolved at the end of the book, making for a most satisfying read.
Fran Knight

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