The Shadow Girl by John Larkin
Random House, 2011. ISBN 9781864718751.
(Age: 15+) It is often said that everyone has a story to tell and John Larkin must have felt likewise when, on a school visit, he encountered a homeless girl determined to continue her education. Her extraordinary resilience inspired him to write The Shadow Girl, a fictional biography that follows the experiences of a thirteen year old forced to flee home to escape from her uncle's sexual advances and brutality.
This book is more than a story about street kids. It is a gripping, sophisticated, thriller complete with murder, mystery, terrifying chases and heart stopping subterfuge. Sexual abuse, adultery, violence, drug use and bulimia are also among the topics raised in this book. However, despite the dark subject matter, Larkin manages to leave the reader energised and uplifted. Woven into this fast paced mix are themes of friendship, humour, questions of fate and destiny and the will to survive. Confronting and captivating at every level, this book is a page turner.
This is an excellent book that even the reluctant reader will find hard to put down. The characters are sensitively drawn and add to the richness of the plot but they are all secondary to the powerful protagonist. She is a self sufficient, solitary individual and accordingly, the story rests with her. Her journey challenges readers to contemplate those values that really contribute to a meaningful life.