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

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: The Pause

Declan seems to have it all – family, friends, the girl of his dreams – but is his life as perfect as it appears? The damage caused by past events and the stress of new challenges leave Declan feeling overwhelmed until in one fateful moment, Declan makes a choice that he believes will end his pain and confusion.

Or does he? In the pause between one second and the next, Dylan has the power to escape or to face the memories and issues that are causing his pain. Which will he choose?

The Pause, by Sydney-based author John Larkin, focuses on the sensitive issue of teen suicide. Through Declan, we explore the conflicting emotions and thoughts of a teenager feeling confused and overwhelmed. As the story unfolds, the reader discovers the complex factors and relationships that bring Declan to the point when he feels he has no choice but to end his life. We are also given a glimpse of Declan’s future and his potential beyond that moment.

The relationship dynamics in this story offer food for thought for both teen and adult readers. Parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, friends, medical staff and strangers are all part of the network that both undermines and supports Declan as he processes his emotions and experiences.

The Pause drew me in to Declan’s world. My heart ached for him as he felt so disconnected and alone. While the story is focused on the experiences of a teenage boy and shared from his perspective, it also offers meaningful and thought-provoking insights for parents, teachers and others helping teens navigate the often challenging adolescent years.

I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed reading The Pause. It was an emotional experience that left me feeling drained and sad that so many feel as disconnected and overwhelmed as Declan. I did find the structure of the novel intriguing, however, and the use of flashbacks worked well to keep readers mindful of the serious issues underlying the unfolding story. I will certainly be recommending The Pause to friends, although I will do so mindful that a book that deals with the topic of suicide in such a direct way will perhaps be too confronting or inappropriate for some.

The novel concludes with 12 reading group questions to spark conversation. Suicide and mental health issues are central to this novel, so parents and teachers should be mindful that the book could act as a trigger for some readers.

There are teachers’ notes available for this book.

If you or anyone you know needs help call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.auhttps://www.lifeline.org.au/.

Title: The Pause
Author: John Larkin
Publisher: Random House, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 April 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780857981707
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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