Growing up in flames by Zach Jones

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Having recently lost her mother to a bushfire, Kenna has moved from her home to her uncle's in the small town where her mother grew up - somewhere she's never been, and isn't sure she'll fit in. Her uncle's young family has welcomed her in, but Kenna feels like an intruder - in the home, in the town, everywhere. One night, Kenna spots a fire in the distance, and goes to see what's happening. She stumbles across the general store, on fire, and a boy watching it burn. Realising he has a petrol can, she intercepts him when he tries to leave, and ends up with his bag. The bag, belonging to Noah, is full of items desperately needed. As their paths cross again and again, while Kenna learns that there was more to her mother than she knew, Noah and Kenna might be able to help each other - or something might end up in flames instead.

This hard hitting, honest contemporary novel full of complicated relationships and mystery covers a number of different topics and emotions, ranging from loss, mental health, control and trauma to anger, guilt and longing. Swapping from present day to the past, from Kenna's perspective to Noah's, along with characters from the past, the story moves seamlessly despite these constant shifts. As the story unfolds, readers will be able to lose themselves in the well written depiction of a small Aussie country town. Where everyone knows each other and history runs deep. Jones has done a great job of writing about family relationships. With some topics having the potential to cause some readers to be triggered by traumatic events, it might be advisable to make this available only to older readers. Teacher's notes are available.

Themes: Contemporary, Family & Relationships,Trust, Loss, Tragedy, Country Town, Family History, Mental Health, Control, Trauma.

Melanie Pages