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Amelie, French International School Hong Kong

The Stars at Oktober Bend

I loved this book so so much, it's a simple story that is just so beautifully written.

This book follows 15 year old Alice, who struggles with her speech due to acquired brain injury after a traumatic incident that happened when she was 12. As a result, she doesn’t go to school and spends most of her time writing poetry, fly tying. She starts leaving her poetry and ‘perfect thoughts’ in public places for people to read, but nobody takes her seriously until Manny James stumbles upon one of her poems at the railway station. Manny was a child soldier in Sierra Leone, who's still trying to adjust to his new life in Australia, after losing his family. The two unlikely pair find each other and fall in love.

Alice is a narrator that takes some getting used to, because her voice is like no other. There are little things that just make it so REAL – the fact that there are no capital letters, the disjointed phrases, the little poems in amongst prose.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start reading this book is the writing style. Alice is a narrator that takes some time to get used to because her way of expressing herself is very unique. But the fact that there are no capital letters, the disjointed phrases and little poems here and there, just makes it feel so real. I had a bit of a hard time understanding the writing style for the first couple of pages, so it seemed quite boring to me. And to be honest, I was almost tempted to just stop reading it. But I kept going and quickly realised how beautiful and lyrical the writing was. The weird syntax and lack of capital letters in the writing really reflected Alice’s character and I really appreciated the way the book was written. It made Alice's POV truly sound like her own voice. We also get to read from Manny’s perspective in this book, and his chapters were written much more traditionally, with proper syntax and punctuation. I thought his voice also reflected who he was as a person and I enjoyed being able to read the story from his point of view as well.

for some
twelve is a nice number
but i
am alice
fifteen times

I absolutely loved the poems that Alice wrote, because they were all so well-written and really showed her emotions. I thought they added so much depth to the story.

All of the characters in this book were wonderfully portrayed but my favourite was definitely Alice. She went through such a tragic experience that nobody should ever experience, and even though to some people around her, she'll always be the 12 year old she was before the incident, she stays strong and is determined to prove that she is so much more than that.

My favourite aspect of this book was definitely the relationships. The way that the characters cared for and cared about each other was just amazing to witness. Personally, I found the relationship between Alice and Manny to be a bit to "love at first sight" for my taste. I would have loved for there to be more gradual development of their romance but overall I'm so happy they found each other.

While the relationship between Alice and Manny was great, it was Alice’s relationship with her younger brother, Joey, that was my favourite. To see Joey, a young teenager himself, be so protective and supportive of his sister, looking after her and his sick grandmother was just so heartwarming. His love for his family was so evident from the very first chapter, and it made me fall in love with the character.

Another thing I loved about the book (honestly there are so many thing I could talk about) was gradually piecing together what happened that day at Oktober bend, the author doesn't immediately describe the incident. It really made the story interesting to read. The plot is simple, but not boring. Glenda Millard doesn’t try to do anything complicated and, instead, focuses on and explores the strength of each characters and the bonds between them. I really appreciated the simplicity of it and that it's not too complicated which can often make stories confusing.

I recommend this book to 12/13+ or slightly more mature readers because of its unique writing style which can be a little challenging for some readers.

Posted on: 24th April 2017 at 04:51 pm

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