'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Friday, 8 March 2013

Review: New Guinea Moon

Sixteen-year-old Julie is on her way to meet a father she doesn’t know in a country she’s never been to. Feeling uncertain and alone, she is regretting the impulsive argument with her mother that has resulted in her spending the school holidays in the wilderness of the New Guinea Highlands.

Julie doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives. She certainly doesn’t expect the lush beauty of the landscape and how quickly she feels a sense of connection to the place and the people. She doesn’t expect the gentle confusion of first love or the unexpected events that will break her heart and lead her to redefine the meaning of the word ‘family’.

Set on the cusp of New Guinea’s independence in 1975, New Guinea Moon is the story of a country and a young girl on the brink of something new. The beautiful but challenging landscape and culture creates a wonderful backdrop for Julie’s inner struggle to determine her own priorities and goals for the future.

I read this wonderful novel in one sitting, staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish it. Julie’s story made my heart ache, as she struggled to deal with the sense of disconnection with her mother and overcome the years of distance between herself and her father. I loved her willingness to see the beauty in the landscape and the people around her, despite the jaded opinions of some of the ex-pats she meets and some of the confronting things she experiences.

There is a gentle love story woven through the pages of New Guinea Moon, but it is primarily a story about family and the experiences that bring a young girl to the point of determining her own path in life. The novel also deals with family relationships and racism and offers a very interesting introduction into a significant time in the combined history of Australia and New Guinea.

Author Kate Constable spent several years in New Guinea as a child and this shows in the way she creates a wonderful sense of the place and people, as well as the cultural conflicts, through the novel. It brought to mind for me my own grandparents’ stories of PNG and their fond memories of their experiences there.

Highly recommended as an enjoyable and thoughtful read for teens, particularly girls.

Title: New Guinea Moon
Author: Kate Constable
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781743315033
For ages: 13 - 16 years
Type: Young adult fiction

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