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

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Review: Red Day

Charlie has three occupants of despair in her life. One is her father who left when she was a baby, never to be heard of again. 

The second is her brother Eli, who died eight years ago and his room remains the same since then. 

The third is the absence of her much-loved Nana Ruth who Charlie’s mother doesn’t allow her to see anymore.

Mum refuses to discuss any of the whys. They’re a family of secrets with a shroud over the most important issues.

A good imagination and synaesthesia is a dangerous combination for Charlie. Her brain works differently. She sees people and numbers in colours and shapes. Her emotions become physical pains. Images of past happenings pass in her mind.

When Mum arranges for an overseas student to stay with them for ten days, Charlie is resentful. This means she must look after Kenichi from Japan; Kenichi with his organised life and beautiful manners. That’s the last thing she wants.

But Kenichi is what Charlie needs. A tour of the town of Cowra and the Prisoner of War museum brings the two children together when they begin exploring the past.

Kenichi’s ancestors’ historical ties with Cowra and the POW camp flutter into the story like feathers in the wind. They reveal that he too, has unresolved family issues.

The mystery of Himura Shin and the photograph at the museum begins to unravel as Charlie and Kenichi start researching further to find answers. Can Charlie’s pains and images help connect the dots?

Written using as backdrop the Cowra Prisoner of War breakout, this book is a precious gift after Sandy Fussell’s long absence from writing. Her prose is mystical and magical. It reads as if she’s lived the life she is writing about. An intimacy that comes with knowledge shines through.

This is a novel with mysterious compartments. It’s built on sharp turns of phrase that deliver crisp and direct prose. Fussell’s writing is like music playing. Highly recommended, this brilliant novel has all the elements needed for a top read.

Title: Red Day
Author: Sandy Fussell
Publisher: Walker Books, $17.99
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760631886
For ages: 9+
Type: Teenage Fiction