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Mrs W, Esher Church of England High School

The Stars at Oktober Bend

I was gripped by the writing in this book. It took a few pages to become used to Alice's lack of capital letters and the disjointed sentences that represent her altered brain wiring, but it is also poetic and beautiful, almost dreamlike. Something devastating has happened to Alice (which we find out later) and supposedly kept her stuck at 12 years old, rather than the 15 years she is. However, we learn that although she's damaged, she has a perceptive view of the world and has progressed beyond 12 years in her emotions.
The reader knows this is a love story right from the off and Manny, a former boy soldier, is damaged too. The growing relationship is well written but I loved some of the other relationships just as much. The brother-sister closeness of Alice and Joey, their care of their worn-out ill grandmother, and the bond between Alice and her loyal dog Bear are all very moving.
There is a lot of trauma in this book - a harrowing attack, poverty, war, parental absence and a grandparent's death. The ending felt over-dramatic with the flood, and Alice being left behind.
I'd recommend this to older teens - because they need to be able to go with the very different writing style, and cope with the plot being unclear in places. The content, while potentially upsetting, is not graphic.

Posted on: 16th May 2017 at 06:22 pm

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