Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale
Published May 30th, 2016, by Random House Australia
336 pages

Book Depository

Growing up is not easy to begin with. Grieving for a dead brother and the loss of a mother makes it ten times harder. To make it harder still, Summer’s dad decides to move his family to the other side of the world. Summer Jackman is brimming with sadness that slowly transforms into anger and resentment, but even when the emotions are at their ugliest, Emily Gale’s writing makes them beautiful.

I was charmed by this story with its broken but loveable characters, with Summer who is stronger and more beautiful than she ever imagined, the ghost of her brother who is more full of life than some living characters are, with the annoying Sophie who is written in a way that one can’t but like her, and the mysterious Gabe who manages to pull Summer out of her black hole and back into the world full of promise, Aussie slang and sunny Christmases.

I was surprised and delighted to find a bit of magical realism in this coming-of-age story. It made the real life aspects of the novel more poignant and the reading even more enjoyable. The language is refreshing, full of surprising yet spot-on metaphors. As with all Emily Gale’s novels, family dynamics are presented with remarkable subtlety and authenticity.

After two young adult novels, The Other Side of Summer is intended for younger readers but Summer’s genuine teenage voice transported me into her world with ease despite my age. The novel is brimming with important issues, such as grief, loss, the importance of family and friendships, growing up, finding oneself. Emily Gale manages to write unforgettable prose in a way that reads effortlessly and stays with the reader long after.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reminiscing about Stockholm

I've been reminiscing about my trip to Stockholm last year ... Beautiful images and memories come to mind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On focus

As an amateur photographer I am aware of the importance of focus. Photographers usually focus on the most interesting item, person or action in a scene. Writers focus on the more obscure, controversial or inspiring issues, or they take the mundane events and make them extraordinary by bringing them into focus.

Out of focus
Focus is the centre of interest or activity. It is also the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. Focus is the part of the picture we see most clearly. In arts, at least. In life, however, we often focus on the wrong issues or see the matter in question wrongly despite it being in focus. Focus is a tricky thing, then.

Recently, my eldest son had to have an operation. His doctor swore it was a routine procedure, the most common operation in the world. It only lasted for about twenty minutes and the recovery was supposed to be quick and unproblematic (all true so far). Even so, when your child is being heavily sedated and subsequently operated on, any cuts performed by the surgeons seem monumental and the routine with which they handle your child insulting.

Of course the hospital staff are kinder and friendlier because the patient is a child, still, everything is done with a sort of indifference that cuts to the quick. "Don't you get it, Doc, it's my child you're going to operate on? What if he doesn't wake up from the anaesthesia? What if something goes wrong? What if ...?"

But the what ifs in this case are the privilege of the mother to ponder on. The doctors cannot afford them. For if they focus on anything other than a positive outcome, the stress of even the smallest, most routine operation would drain them. Asking them to care, to see the situation from our perspective, to look at it through our lens, is asking them too much. It's my son, but it's their job. Just another day at the office, stressful enough, I'm sure, without me adding to it.

By focusing on the positive, we get a clear visual definition of it. It is why we should always point out the good examples, the best written letters, the well performed tasks to our children when teaching them, because by pointing out and drawing their focus to the mistakes, we only get them to memorize the wrong answers, not the right one.

Focus is a funny thing, because it's hard not to focus on the bad stuff, and thus bad stuff leads to more bad stuff and the negative becomes self-perpetuating. The centre of our activity should be on our dreams, not our fears. So, focus, people.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

a storm is raging
as I wait for news of you

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


While my reading is 'n sync with nature ...
... my writing is not.

tree leaves turn golden
to help weakening sun warm
the earth in autumn

Thursday, October 8, 2015

September book haul

Books bought in September:

Culture shock: Australia 4$
Hello Ruby: Adventure in Coding 14$
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 22$
Every breath 8,79€
Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children 10,74€
Hanna's Daughters 13,68€
Wildlife 17,20€
Every word 9,81€
Stick man 7,13€
Every move 11,36€


Chocolate box girls: Cherry Crush  14,71
The coldest girl in Coldtown 7,28
Lock & Mori 15,85
Miracle at the museum of broken hearts 0
Something about love 0
Crashing into love 3,65
Daisy and the front man 2,99
Della says: OMG 6,14
The fault in our stars 9,96

Let's just say my bank account is not happy. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned books week

This is just a picture but you can have a look at the actual infographic at the ACLU website. When you hover over each book, you'll see an explanation why the book has been banned.

I think it is worrisome or perhaps sad that we need the Banned Books Week to celebrate the banned books and freedom of speech and freedom of chosing what we want to read. Some of the reasons to ban certain books are downright petty and unfounded, some are preposterous.

Why ban books that raise difficult issues, pose questions, provoke us to think or just simply act as the mirror to ourselves? Let's be honest and admit that these books are being banned, not because they might have pernicious effect on the readers, but because we are afraid of what they are telling us about ourselves and our society.