Review Blog

Jun 07 2013

My life as an alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

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Allen and Unwin, 2013. ISBN 9781743310977
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Family. Death. Humour. Candice's life is unsettling. Her parents are distant, both from her and each other, since the death of her sibling, Frances (Sky). At school she is a loner, clever, quick witted, but derided by the others as a geek. When Douglas Benson enrolls in her school and sits next to her, she finds a soulmate. He thinks he is from another dimension and spends his time trying to find ways of returning but has some apposite comments to make about Candice and her family. She decides that she must act before the family completely falls apart and so begins a campaign of things which turn out most unusually.
This is a wonderful read; at times poignant, mostly very funny, telling of the relationships within schools, certainly redolent of the trauma a family goes through when a child dies. But the humour is astounding. I found myself laughing out loud as Candice begins her path of bringing her family back together again. When she falls into the harbour to ensure that her father and estranged uncle both dive in to rescue her, it could not go more wrong, the whole episode reading like the script of a TV farce. Her perceived outcome brings far different results, but undaunted she keeps trying.
Told in the style of an autobiography, a task set by the beloved teacher, the whole is divided into chapters using the alphabet as the headings. Each chapter reveals another aspect of her life, and we are readily drawn into her life and her attempts to set things right.
A thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read with marvellously sympathetic characters, the book is a joy to read.
Fran Knight

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