This is how we change the ending by Vikki Wakefield

cover image

Text, 2019. ISBN: 9781922268136.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Survival, Persistence, Coming of age. Wow! This has to be my favourite YA book of 2019, thanks to Wakefield's wonderful talent of bringing alive a vulnerable character in 16 year old Nate McKee who is doing his best to stay a good person in terrible circumstances. His only refuge from a violent father is hanging out at the local youth centre, and when its closure is threatened, doesn't know what he will do without this one safe place outside of school. He fills a note book with things he can't say aloud and when his words are put up as graffiti by Tash, he realises that he may be able to fight back and make a difference, and that he does have allies and friends.
Wakefield's descriptions of Nate's home life are vivid and compelling. He has to look after his very difficult twin half-brothers and watch while Dec, his abusive father, puts down Nance his young partner. His mother had left many years before and even though she has reached out to see him again she doesn't seem to be a person who he can rely on and his best friend Merrick has left school and is becoming reckless. At school there is one bright patch, a teacher who has left an elite private school, in the hope of making a difference.
It's not often that you finish a book with tears in your eyes because of the heart-wrenching effect of great writing, but even on a second read, I still had tears in my eyes, grateful for the chance to have read about such a gutsy character as Nate, and the few outstanding adults who helped him on the way to breaking a vicious cycle.
This is a must have for every high school library and public library and would be a perfect class novel to study or literature circle book to discuss. Teacher's notes are available.
Pat Pledger