Review Blog

Jul 12 2018

Sweet adversity by Sheryl Gwyther

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Angus and Robertson 2018. ISBN 9781460755105
Themes: Acting. Friendship. Australian history. April 1930 finds 12 year-old Adversity McAllister in Emu Swamp Children's Home where her parents left her temporarily while they sought work for their theatrical troupe. She and her pet cockatiel Macbeth like to perform for the other children and are often in trouble for flaunting the rules. Matron Maddock tolerates Addie as she is good with the younger children and she has an award winning voice which matron aims to exploit. She tells Addie that her parents are dead and that she is her guardian. The Depression has left many impoverished and seeking work. Times are hard and the children in the home are poorly fed and have to do many chores including work in the laundry which has a faulty boiler. When Addie learns of a plan by Matron to sell her to an entrepreneur who will make her perform she decides to run away. The staff help her, providing food and a horse drawn caravan for her escape. She gets as far as a nearby secret children's camp where she is welcomed by some but not all and she has to move on, finding a sympathetic inn owner who allows her to work for food and care for her horse. Unfortunately the entrepreneur notices her and she is kidnapped and taken back to the home. Money changes hands and she is whisked off to Sydney but not before she picks up her friend little orphaned Joe and manages to take him with her. Against the backdrop of Sydney during the Depression, under the shadow of the part completed Harbour Bridge Addie continues her adventures, experiencing the excitement of performing on the stage while trying to find the truth about her parents and escape from slavery.
Younger readers will enjoy this adventure with a strong heroine courageously triumphing over corrupt people in power while looking after her friends and sharing her love of the stage and performance.
Sue Speck

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