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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Review: A Single Stone

Every girl dreams of being part of the line; of being small, nimble and flexible enough to be chosen as one of the seven who tunnel deep into the mountains to bring back a harvest of mica to sustain the village.

Jena is the leader of the line. She is strong and responsible and proud of her team, who do such vital work to ensure that the villagers have the light and heat they need to survive. Jena deals with the sacrifices and hardships of her role because she knows there is no other way.

When a chance discovery reveals that secrets are being kept by the women who lead the village, will Jena’s questions undermine her ability to fearlessly lead the line? Will moving one small stone bring the whole mountain tumbling down around her?

After reading several fast-paced and adrenaline-driven novels recently, the steady, thoughtful unfolding of A Single Stone was refreshing. A carefully layered story written by popular author Meg McKinlay, A Single Stone explores themes of leadership, community, tradition, family and identity as we learn more about Jena and the isolated village she calls home.

Women are dominant within the village, as members of the line and as the Mothers, the group of women who govern every aspect of village life. While I enjoyed the dynamic this created within the novel, for me it was the power of tradition and story that fired my imagination. There is a spiritual element to the story of their past, and this lends power and authority to their current leaders in a way that makes questions and doubts seem somehow disrespectful and dangerous.

A Single Stone is a thoughtful middle fiction novel. The isolation of the village and the process of mining the mica create a fascinating background for an engaging story. It is the underlying themes and ideas and the questions they provoke, however, that will remain with readers after the book ends.  

A Single Stone is ideal as a prompt for classroom discussions about community, tradition, gender roles within society, and identity. There are teachers’ notes available for this book and you can find Meg's guest post on creating fictional worlds here.

Title: A Single Stone
Author: Meg McKinlay
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 May 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925081701
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Fiction

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