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

Friday 29 July 2016

Review: The Other Christy

Christy Ung moved to Australia with her grandfather when she was in Year 4. Her life in Cambodia before then was filled with love, but she also experienced the death of her mother, and life certainly wasn't easy. Since living in Australia, she's learnt English and is doing well at school, but she hasn't really made any friends and is known as a loner.

Basically, she's the exact opposite of Christie Owens. Popular, vivacious, the sun around whom everyone revolves in 'Other Christy's' class, Christie really really irritates Christy!

However, as Christy tries to fit in and win a few friends — assisted by the delicious cakes she bakes with the help of her Auntie Mayly and brings in to school — she realises that perhaps Christie's oh-so-perfect life isn't so perfect after all. And maybe, just maybe, they have more in common than Christy (or Christie) could ever have imagined!

This is a sensitive, gently humorous look at friendship, the longing to belong, and how someone's public face doesn't always reflect the real person inside. It's also a poignant exploration of the struggles that immigrants to Australia can experience as well as the scars they can carry as a result of what they've experienced in their homeland. Christy's grandfather lived through the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, he blames himself for the death of Christy's mother. And while his OCD cleanliness annoys Christy and is very funny to read about, at its heart, it's a legacy of the unimaginable hardship and grief he's been through.

I loved the way Oliver Phommavanh touched so lightly on so many important issues. I also like that neither Christy/ie is 'perfect'. They're flawed, real characters who make mistakes, overreact and yell at their loved ones. These are kids that kids — and parents — will relate to.

Title: The Other Christy
Author: Oliver Phommavanh
Publisher: Puffin, $16.99
Publication Date: June 2016
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143505723
For ages: 8+
Type: Middle Fiction