Being Black ‘N Chicken, & Chips
by Matt Okine
In this novel set in Australia in the late 1980s, we follow Mike Amon. His parents are divorced and he has a lot to deal with – his first crush, school bullies and becoming a star athlete. But underneath all of this he is struggling with the fact that his mother is sick in hospital and trying to relate to his African father, whom he might have to live with indefinitely. If only Zoe would like him back. If only he could win that race. If only his dad would stop cooking chicken nibbles every night. This book is not for younger readers, as there is swearing and Mike’s inquisitive pubescent obsessions throughout the book. Matt Okine captures each character with a different voice brilliantly. Based on Okine’s loss of his own mother at 12, this coming-of-age book is at times sad, but mostly a good deal of fun.
You’ll never see me again
by Leslie Pearse
It is 1917 and Betty Wellows lives in Hallsands, Devon, a little fisherman’s village. At age eight she loses her mother and then loses her father, a fisherman, not long after she marries. When her husband returns home from war – shell-shocked and unable to recognise her – Betty discovers that he is not the man she married. The couple have no choice but to live with his bitter mother – a woman who despises everything about Betty. One night in a terrible storm, which destroys most of the village, Betty finds an opportunity to escape from her dreadful life. Thinking her past is now behind her, she builds a new life. However, years later, her past confronts her; she must go back so that she can move forward. Leslie Pearse’s storytelling is good in the way she describes moments in history, including the 1917 influenza, which in our current situation is relatable. Although this book was not for me, if you are a fan of Pearse’s you will enjoy it.