Review Blog

Feb 25 2013

Freia Lockhart's summer of awful by Aimee Said

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Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781 921977 80 0.
(age: 12+) Highly recommended. Growing up. Cancer. Don't you love it when you pick up a sequel and are immediately drawn into the book you read a year or so ago, and without thinking are aware through the wonderful writing of the events and characters of that first book. Freia is the most appealing character, full of life and doubts, loving her family with a passion, but also aware of their faults, detailing for the reader just how this family works, and in this story, how they all cope with mother's cancer, the summer of awful.
Freia and her boyfriend Dan are kissing in her bedroom, which in this house is against the rules, when her parents call her down to a family talk. She thinks its about her infringement, but the parents have bad news, and the routine of hospital and specialists visits begin. Aimee Said is able to detail mother's medical procedures with interest and compassion, enabling the reader to know what is happening without a wash of medical jargon but with enough information to make it quite involving, using a touch of humour to alleviate the tension and emotional involvement.
All the while the relationship between Freia and Dan seems, at least to Freia's eyes, to be dissolving especially when he takes off for the New Year to visit his estranged mother. Gran helps in her own inimitable way to repair the breach between them, suddenly taking off herself when a friend dies. This is a marvellous read, full of the highs and lows of family life, Dad sitting in his study while his mother in law is in the house, Ziggy acting oddly, eventually being chatted by the Police for anti social behaviour, and all through it Mum with her visits and stays in hospital shines through: no one is unbelievable, each is a rounded character, and lower secondary people will feel welcomed to this family.
Fran Knight

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