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

Saturday 3 November 2018

Review: Paper Cranes Don't Fly

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly, a debut novel by nineteen year old student Peter Vu, is the winner of the 2018 INKY Awards.

This is not an autobiography, although it is based on the author’s life experiences. Nor is it another sad story about a boy dying of cancer (there are parts that will need tissues). 

It is an inspiring novel in powerful language laced with humour that flows beautifully. It is full of warmth and unconditional love, and accents the strength and value of true friendship. 

A line-up of remarkable characters drive the story with their extraordinary and moving dialogue which maintains its superior level to the end.

Adam Auttenberg, Ambrose and Tess have been super close friends from childhood. They love each other deeply and without reserve, and express their feelings freely to each other. When Adam is diagnosed with cancer, hospital becomes his new home. It’s these friends and family that rally to support him through his chemo therapy and its horrible side effects. Playlists and frequent visits, TV sessions and sleepovers sustain Adam and the strong bond between them all.

In hospital he meets and immediately grows close to Rachel, a patient with severe renal problems. He also revives an old friendship with Rose, his book buddy from primary school. This group of five become his life-line.

Adam is a modest boy, who can’t believe that anyone could love him the way that his friends do. Yet what they love is his pure spirit and authenticity, and his commitment to being happy no matter what Life throws at him. When Adam’s cancer becomes terminal, each character has to come to terms with the inevitable loss of a true friend. This is the hardest things to face for them all, and Adam’s gentleness and acceptance is evident in the way he strives to lessen his friends’ pain.

An eighteenth birthday party that they will never forget is Adam’s first and last party. His friends celebrate his life and their love for him with broken hearts. He leaves a manuscript for them that describes his experiences and thoughts during his illness.

Peter Vu was six years old when he was diagnosed with a brainstem glioma. His last surgery while he was in Year Ten was the pivotal moment in his life. This led him to write about his experiences during his hospital stays as a support tool for others in similar situations.

There is no doubt that this book deserves the prize. I was amazed at Peter’s versatile writing skills, command of language and ability to create a riveting read that engaged the reader from the first page to the last. Written in a strong first person narrative, Paper Cranes Don’t Fly is an impressive first novel not to be missed.

Come back tomorrow for our fascinating interview with Peter Vu.

Title: Paper Cranes Don’t Fly
Author: Peter Vu
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing, $ 19.95
Publication Date: August 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925272765
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult