The Book of Chance by Sue Whiting

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651367.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Chance's implacable family life is in the balance after she finds that all is not what it seems. She has always seen the world in black and white, she and her mother anchored with an unvarying bond of companionship, love and respect Next door is her best friend and now that the two girls are in year seven, all seems steady and rock solid. Chance's mother, a single parent works hard to support the refugee families in the town, Wollongong, and has little time left for their home.
Wanting to thank her mother, Chance unwittingly invites chaos into her world, by contacting a TV show that does house makeovers. She exposes her background to the presenter, and her mother's story of her father being killed in a fire in Perth with Chance being born soon after, comes under scrutiny, as the presenter was there. Mum has kept a book for Chance, The Book of Chance, in which all of her life is recorded. But now Chance comes to question what is written, it is no longer black and white, but what is the truth?
This is an intriguing look at truth and lies, as Whiting reveals the rock that Chance's life sits on begin to crumble. She has always thought that what her mother told her was the truth, unvarying, and she admired her mother's steadfast nature but a photo of her mother undermines all that she has been told.
Skilfully paralleling Chance's predicament with the school crackdown on the misuse of Facebook resulting in one child's leaving the school, Whiting plots this story with aplomb. We know from the start that something has happened as Chance is being interviewed at a police station, and from there the story if told as a countdown, increasing the tension and need to know for the reader.
Whiting touches on the role of the media, the use of social media, the half truths told in families. This is a powerful book written by Whiting after a crime was exposed in 2017, making her think about the child involved at its centre. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Family, Crime, Friendships, Truth.
Fran Knight