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Phoebe, King Alfreds Academy

The Stars at Oktober Bend

The Stars at Oktober Bend is a heart-warming story of hope and forgiveness. Written by award-winning author, Glenda Millard, this book is one of family and friends and overcoming tragedies. The story is from the point of view of Alice Nightingale, a 15-year-old girl with hair as red as fire that lives at Oktober Bend with her grandmother and brother, Joey. Alice has an acquired brain injury because when she was 12, she was attacked and hit with a stone in the hope that she couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. She refuses to talk about the incident and becomes furious with her grandmother when she brings it up. The accident: that wasn’t an accident. Despite, or even because of, the lack of punctuation, this story is truly beautiful. It helps to show the reader what Alice is like and how she thinks. Alice writes poems in the book, as a way of expressing her thoughts which she could never speak. She scattered them around town however, nobody cared to read them until Manny came.
Manny James also suffered from the memories of a horrid past and the things he had seen which no child should ever have to. He is a refugee, a child soldier, trying to start a new life in Australia (where the story is set). We read from Manny’s point of view as well as the story progresses. He narrates, with the proper punctuation, his first sighting of Alice, “the girl with long hair”, discovering one of her poems and lots of touching moments between the two of them confiding in each other.
My favourite character had to be Alice because, even after everything she had been through, she helped her attacker’s brother when he was in need of it. I really admired her strong relationship with her brother Joey. No matter what happened, he was always there for Alice. This book is so well-written; it feels as if the characters are real and that you have a real connection with them. At first, the lack of capital-letters and phrases such as “crazy electrics” were a bit confusing for me but as the story continued, I understood it more and began to love the style in which it is written. It shows you that even though Alice is underestimated by everyone else in her town, the words she tries to speak are not meaningless at all. In fact, what she writes rather than says is a work of art. Unfortunately, when she talks, her words come out in a “slow, slurred speech”.
This book is unpredictable and a little hard to keep up with at first; however, there isn’t a single moment of stillness. Every word is “gold”, just as Manny says Alice’s poems are! My favourite part of the book was probably when Manny insisted that he wanted to hear Alice speak. She was hesitant but he was confident that it would change nothing. I loved the fact that Manny didn’t care how Alice appeared on the outside, and kept on trying to help her especially after she had shown him what she was like on the inside. Behind all her “crazy electrics”. Every word of this book is detailed but one scene I think was written particularly well-written was when there was a storm and Oktober Bend flooded. It was incredibly detailed and I could really picture it in my head, as if I was there. This book doesn’t have any boring bits and is a real page-turner. The only thing I didn’t really like about this book was that it could have been a bit more descriptive of some of the places because it didn’t really mention what they were like.
To conclude, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books about overcoming tragedies, yet filled with hidden and uncovered sadness. I would rate this book 9/10: it is really a masterpiece. My favourite thing about this book is this quote at the end, “i am alice. no more. no less. just alice”…

Posted on: 2nd May 2017 at 09:09 am

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