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- author Jackie French

Thursday 26 December 2019

Review: The Thing About Oliver

Tilly has become invisible. She is like glass. People see right through her. Her brother Oliver claims all mum’s attention. And Tilly’s too. Her dreams are what keep her going. They are locked in her head just like her precious possessions are locked inside her bedroom. The key is tied around her neck.
Oliver has autism. He doesn’t speak. Their house is a war zone of smashed belongings and holes in the walls. The family are under the threat of eviction due to Oliver’s noise levels. 

Tilly’s life has been set aside as all hers and mum’s energy goes into caring for her brother.  She wants to be a marine scientist and knows a great deal about fish and their habits. She studies them, keeps a fish tank in her room, and diligently adds entries to her illustrated journal of marine creatures so she won’t forget anything.

Change is not a good thing for Oliver. When mum loses her job, Tilly is forced to leave her beloved fish behind when they move to her aunt’s home in Townsville.

Aunt Janine has absolutely no experience of children, and even less knowledge of autism. Chaos reigns as the change they hoped would improve their lives, has the opposite outcome.

Oliver’s destructive habits lead Tilly to an explosive blowout that has dire consequences.  Ultimately, it is Tilly’s intimate familiarity of Oliver and these habits that bring events to their conclusion.
The Thing About Oliver is a stunning and profoundly moving portrayal of glass children. Deborah Kelly has deeply immersed herself in her characters. The result renders the story authentic and pure. The prose shines in the light that Tilly’s narrative voice creates.

Title: The Thing About Oliver
Author: Deborah Kelly
Publisher: Wombat Books , $14.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925563818
For ages: 8+
Type: Middle Fiction