Review Blog

Sep 17 2008

Issues of our time edited by Helen Sykes

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Future Leaders, 2008. ISBN: 9780980332018
This book is for upper secondary students and has articles and essays by leading thinkers on issues such as climate change, reconciliation, sexuality, affordable housing, higher education and bioethics. It also has 9 fiction and 9 non fiction essays selected from work submitted for the Future Leaders Writers' Prize in 2007, from year 12 students all over Australia.
The essays by eminent thinkers such as Larissa Behrendt, Michael Kirby, Fiona Stanley and Julian Disney are lucid, comprehensive and very informative, but only Michael Kirby on Sexuality has an accessible, personable and inspiring style. The student non fiction section with articles on climate change, racism, depression, choosing a baby's sex , nuclear energy and violence are more original in style, vivid and readable. The essay on climate change was an opening address to a conference in 2019 and graphically painted the future we could face if we continue to ignore global warming. The book is worth getting just for these essays and is available for free.
The 9 fiction essays grapple deeply with topics as diverse as Uluru, homelessness, grief and memory, being and madness. The poetry of Jessica Bloom in Godot Alone is brilliant. Alec McKinnon displays compassion in the beautifully written The Oak Tree when the newspaper boy once again hears the old lady's story of her husband's death in World War 1. Ruby Rousell finds a positive in wearing a back brace for scoliosis.
Lend a copy to your year 12 English teacher: they will find something there to share with their students.
It's reassuring that there are students who can write and think like this. One hopes there are many more like them.
Kevyna Gardner

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