The stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard
Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781743315897
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. The stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard is a beautiful and realistic novel about a girl called Alice Nightingale, a 15 year old who wants to be normal and accepted by the people in her home town. Alice struggles to communicate in the everyday, her thoughts and feelings are presented to and shared with the reader through her internal dialogue as she struggles to write and talk like other people her age. Alice lives with her grandmother and her brother; both have fiercely protected her since the day of her incident which left her introverted, ashamed and isolated from the normal world. Alice is not the only person running from a horrific past full of trauma and pain, Manny James, the running boy is also in his own internal isolation, withholding the fear of his past from his adoptive parents and everyone he knows, except Alice; somebody whom understands his situation. Manny and Alice meet one night as Alice stands on her roof, among the stars, wanting to be free to soar on the wings of clear words and coherent speech. Manny spies this lonely figure and is instantly captivated by her and her poetic statements and questions left all over town.
Written in a way that is different from the generic first-person novel format, The stars at Oktober Bend allows poetry, symbolism and emotion to show through to the audience as the intertwined stories of Alice and Manny charm the reader, making this book hard to put down. Because of the symbolic content, themes of violence and the tragic histories of both the main characters, I would recommend this novel to an older audience of 14+ so that they may engage in the story to the fullest extent. This novel truly is an eye opening read which presents an astounding view of the world through a relatable style of writing making this an unforgettable work of fiction.
Sarah Filkin (University student)