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Mrs B, Stockport School Carnegie Readers

The Stars at Oktober Bend

This is a book to stick with and get used to...and I wonder whether many teen readers will bother.
From the outset, and for a good part of the story, it is quite hard to follow Alice's thoughts. She writes with no capital letters, random punctuation and sentence construction. This makes it quite hard work to follow her thoughts/story - deliberately so - and it's only once we become attuned to her voice that we start to see beyond the surface.
Alice is fifteen. She lives with her brother, Joey, and her ill grandmother. The family are ostracised by many in their town because Alice's grandfather is in prison. When we learn why, we become a lot less judgemental.
The story centres on the developing friendship between Alice and Manny, a young boy from Sierra Leone. These two have endured horrific experiences, and lived through almost unimaginable horrors. These are revealed, though not in great detail and certainly not gratuitously, and I was amazed at their positivity and innocence.
There was a moment where I feared we were going to get an awfully bleak story. Thankfully, the storm that threatens Oktober Bend brought about a very different series of events to those we might have expected. While it wasn't wholly positive there was a definite sense of survival and hope.
A complicated book in some ways, but worth persevering with.

Posted on: 29th March 2017 at 10:27 am

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