Review Blog

Jul 25 2013

The whole of my world by Nicole Hayes

cover image

Woolshed Press, 2013. ISBN 9781742758602.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Shelley Brown is hoping for a fresh start; a new school brings the possibility of new friends and new interests, the possibility of a new life. Since the loss of her mother, Shelley and her dad are drawing a line between the past and the present, so Shelley jumps at the chance to attend footy training with her new friend, Tara. After all, football has always been Shelley's passion especially her beloved Glenthorn Football Club. Attending Thursday night training also gives Shelley a chance to befriend the new player, Mick Edwards. They have a lot in common: he is new to the club and is trying to put together a good season to keep his future in football alive. Shelley is the newbie in the Cheer Squad, trying to put together a new future
Shelley and Tara are obsessed by their footy team and this novel is cleverly structured to reflect this passion: every chapter and section references the game, from 'The Draft' to the 'Pre-Season' to 'The end-of-season Trip'. Author Nicole Hayes has also cleverly structured the plot development. Whilst most readers will accept Shelley's lingering grief at losing her mother, midway through the novel the full story behind Shelley's loss is revealed in a manner which will make readers empathise with the deep pain behind her journey of rebirth.
In a sports mad country like Australia it is always intriguing to shine a light on that obsession and Nicole Hayes does this thoughtfully, as her novel explores the importance of football in so many fans' lives: the euphoria when their team wins, the despair when they lose and the relationship they have with the players themselves.
However, this is more than just a football yarn; set against the football background is a bigger story about grief and loss, about family ties and family breakdown, of burgeoning love and the resilience needed not only to face another football season but also to face life's many ups and downs. Even those who don't love football will find a lot to enjoy in Shelley Brown's world.
Deborah Marshall

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