Books

1999

Dreamcatcher
published by Lothian Books.

Set in a context of contemporary environmental themes, Dreamcatcher is an exploration of the issues faced by a teenage girl whose family is spread over two households. It deals with the fears Tess and her half-sister, Laura, have of failing parental expectations. It also deals with the competing loyalties which arise for Tess from the positive aspects of belonging to both households. Her parents are not idealised but, through Tess’ eyes, all three are portrayed as having strengths and weaknesses. The tricky relationship between mother and stepmother is negotiated in a positive and yet realistic manner. Laura’s difficulties in sharing Tess with another household are explored realistically and sensitively. The challenges of Tess’ changing needs and the impact of these on residency arrangements are another theme of the book.

 

1998

OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Sue Hines
Random House Australia

This story explores the impact of family secrets. It revolves around Rowanna, a year 9 student who, in coming to terms with her mother’s death, reflects on her discovery of her mother’s lesbianism. The book charts the struggle with and resolution of Ro’s feelings about these issues. In the process other issues including peer relationships, prejudice, teenage sexuality and the meaning of family are also explored. The narrative does not sensationalise these issues, rather it presents them in a way that is accessible to adolescent readers.

1997

LOCKIE LEONARD LEGEND by Tim Winton
Pan Macmillan Australia

Lockie is a 13 year old surfer who is grappling with issues around adolescence and relationships. The fabric of his world is shaken when his mother starts behaving very strangely and ends up in hospital. Lockie suddenly finds himself thrust into having to take on the responsibilities of helping with the physical and emotional care of his younger siblings and the household chores. Through Lockie’s eyes, the reader sees the struggles and development of the family as it deals with a parent suffering a clinical depression. The narrative is presented in a light-hearted and engaging way that teenagers will enjoy, without compromising emotional depth or realism.

1996

A BRIDGE TO WISEMAN’S COVE by James Moloney
University of Queensland Press

This book is a well written and engaging story of two brothers who are left longer in the care of their reluctant aunt than any of them planned on, in a town where their original family are outcasts. The narrative traces Carl’s developing relationship with a family who eventually provide him and his younger brother with a safe, accepting place to be. The trials along the way to acceptance in this newly-formed family are realistically portrayed, with a focus on Carl as he works through his feelings – his feelings about his own family of origin, his feelings about himself and his feelings about the family in which he and Harley find acceptance and a sense of self worth.

 

1995

MONGREL by David Rish
Angus & Robertson

The well written, pacey, believable story of an angry sixth grade girl who feels dumped by her mother when sent to live with her grandfather in the country. Through caring for an abandoned dog, and nurtured by an accepting and down to earth grandfather and local community, she finds a focus beyond herself. When she discovers the truth about her father’s absence she comes to accept the reality of her family relationships.

1994

FRACTURE ZONE by Jonathan Harlen
Omnibus Books

This book describes a family in Sydney, suspended between their life as affluent landowners in Latvia before the Second World War and life in present day Australia. Andrejs’ extended family opt finally for accepting that Australia is really their home now. Against the backdrop of the family’s crisis of decision, Andrejs finds himself, against his mother’s wishes, championing an old woman who is in danger of losing her home.

1993

DOUGY by James Moloney
University of Queensland Press

The story is told through the eyes of Dougy, the younger brother in an aboriginal family, of the family’s aspirations and the drama that unfolds in their small country town when Dougy’s sister, Grace, is picked for the state athletics championships. Dougy is an action packed and psychologically convincing novel dealing with a range of complex issues, including racism.