Reviewer:

Jane Mitchell

Book Cover - Unsettled

Unsettled

From its opening acknowledgements and introduction, this book draws you in and demands that you take notice of every word. Part memoir, part poetry, part polemic of the life she was forced to live, Rosaleen McDonagh’s extraordinary debut is a rich and complex portrayal of one woman’s life in modern Ireland.

Book Cover - Kick

Kick

Based in Indonesia, this book from new voice Mitch Johnson explores the gritty world of child labour, poverty and corruption through the eyes of 12-year-old Budi. Mad about football, Budi dreams of being an international football star. These dreams and his devotion to Real Madrid and its star player Kieran Wakefield sustain him in his tough world. The factory where Budi and other children labour for long hours in untenable conditions is harsh and unsympathetic, while his impoverished home life and lack of treatment for his haemophilia provide little relief.

Book Cover - The Ghosts and Jamal

The Ghosts and Jamal

Thirteen-year old Jamal is the endearing protagonist in this charming and ultimately uncomfortable story set in Nigeria, from exciting HopeRoad Publishing. Author Bridget Blankley tells his story almost solely from Jamal’s point of view, and he has a unique take on the world—informed in part by his particular way of understanding the spiritual beliefs and superstitions of his people, and his enforced isolation from his community as a result of his epilepsy.

Book Cover - We Go On Forever

We Go On Forever

This science-fiction dystopian romance is built around on a strong premise somewhat derivative of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. It holds tension well over the course of the story, revealing its shocking conclusion effectively. This is achieved through short chapters narrated alternately by the two main characters, Alba and Arthur, so the reader learns the truth at the same time as them.

Book Cover - The Space We're In

The Space We’re In

This début novel is an uplifting tale narrated by ten-year-old Frank who lives with his parents and five-year-old brother Max. Frank’s lyrical words dance off the page from the opening and draw the reader into his heart-warming and heart-breaking story.

Book Cover - The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

Set far in the future of a mostly-destroyed England, this action-packed adventure is the first of a fantasy series for young adults. The story gallops from one knife-edge moment of terror to the next, with little downtime for the reader to draw breath, as dangers and deadly threats assault the two unfortunate main characters, Scarlett McCain and Albert Browne, at every turn.

Book Cover - All Our Hidden Gifts

All Our Hidden Gifts

Caroline O’Donoghue’s début young adult novel is a contemporary urban fantasy set in the fictitious Irish town of Kilbeg. Its cast of characters represents the diversity in gender identity, ethnicity and sexuality expected in an inclusive current novel, and more.

Book Cover - Indigo Donut

Indigo Donut

This is a big book for any young (and not so young) reader, so you’re going to have to love the story to stick with it. But Patrice Lawrence does big stories with heart and soul: her award-winning Orangeboy packed a solid 449 pages.

Book Cover - The Girl In Between

The Girl In Between

This book, by a new Irish writer for children, has an intriguing and strong voice, a main character whose language is rich with pure and authentic Dublin-speak, and some witty and charming turns of phrase. The unnamed young protagonist tells her own story, full of imagery typical of a country rising from the wreckage of recession. It presents an original and fresh perspective on poverty and homelessness amid construction cranes, shiny new apartments and hi-tech businesses.

Book Cover - The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall

This funny and thought-provoking book is the latest offering from Barrington Stoke’s super-readable teen series. It is a great book for all readers. It focuses on friendship and family. It also looks at the all too common problems of poverty and bullying through the eyes of the geeky and highly likeable protagonist Cal, who volunteers at his local food bank, where Jacob, a troubled new student at Cal’s school, gets help. While Cal respects Jacob’s shameful secret, Jacob himself is defensive and angry.