Review Blog

Aug 17 2014

Are you seeing me? by Darren Groth

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Woolshed Press, 2014. ISBN 978857984739
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Disability. Cancer. Twins. Journeys. Canada. Using their inheritance for a trip to Vancouver with her twin brother, Justine opens her father's diary to read on the plane. Her brother is in his seat on the other side of the aisle, and as she reads, we hear of the moments that built up in their parent's lives, causing her mother to leave when they were five.
From the opening pages we see for ourselves the strain of caring for Perry, his inability to get past the security gates, his carrying a seismic monitor everywhere, his awkwardness with people. Justine has a patter which she trots out to new people about Perry, and even Perry reprises it on occasion to explain his behaviour.
On their trip, the big questions eat away at them both. Their father had investigated sheltered accommodation for Perry before he died, and Perry feels that he must be able to give Justine her own life, and wants her to tell him she will cope without him. Justine on the other hand thinks Perry wants to be independent, but neither can be truly honest about how they feel.
Perry's literal view of life is sometimes very funny, often poignant, and sometimes hits a cord with people he is dealing with.
I reread the sequences at the security gates at the airport and the boat trip on the lake to further understand Perry and his view of the world. He eventually plans to disappear for a while, which from his perspective, will scare Justine for a while, but make her realise that she can live without him and that he can cope on his own.
When they meet their mother in Seattle, tension builds. An earthquake lands Justine in hospital, and events move along quickly as Perry's ability to cope with this situation saves her life.
I loved this tale of the journey taken by these two marvellous characters. Perry is never given a label, he is as he is, and his part of the story is a knockout. The book is divided into several sections, three from Perry's point of view, three from Justine's and all interspersed with dad's diary. Justine's boyfriend, Marc, is concerned about their trip and causes Justine's anger to boil over, while her mother too gives an edge to Justine's feelings. Through it all is the love shared by the twins, forced to look out for each other by their mother's desertion and later, their father's death.
This would be a great class set for middle secondary kids. Extensive teacher notes can be found at the publisher's website.
Fran Knight

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