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

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Review: Worse Things

Blake, Jolene and Amed are emotionally bruised individuals. They have one thing in common – sport.

Blake’s world has distorted. Life as he knew it is over due to a football injury which keeps him on the sidelines. He gets shut out by his friends now he’s not an active player. Alone and feeling discarded, all he can do is watch.

Another watcher is Amed, a refugee who lost his family as a child. It took years for his aunt in Australia to find him. He loves soccer, but is voiceless and isolated. He can’t speak English and understands very little of what he hears. 

What he observes in Blake and Jolene, when alone and watching, are feelings similar to his own. 

Jolene’s parents are doctors.

Her father is overseas saving refugees and others in catastrophic situations. She longs for him to be near to save her from a controlling mother, who only cares that Jolene excels at hockey. Jolene hates hockey. It’s her mother’s dream she’s living. Books and reading are what she loves.

The negative way Jolene is perceived by her team mates adds to her unbelonging. She is friendless. Now, her mother wants to send her to college to be finished; polished and refined, even though she loves her hometown.

But there are worse things, these three characters discover.

Jolene is put next to Blake to assist him due to his broken arm. She learns a great deal during the short time she spends with him.

Then she is allocated one day a week to converse with Amed in order to improve his English. She learns about his worse things.

Then, the worst thing happens.

Worse Things is a book I press to my heart. I was moved to tears of celebration at Sally Murphy’s ability to gift that to a reader. I experienced the same thing after reading her Pearl Verses the World.

It isn’t only Murphy’s perfect choice of words that is moving. To accentuate specific words, she introduces them with definitions. These definitions reflect the who, what and why of the characters.

Murphy’s words are reinforced by the glorious illustrations of Sarah Davis; interesting, thought-provoking images which perfectly depict the characters’ emotions, thoughts and actions with powerful expression.

Beginning from the covers, this verse novel is stunning in every way.  It is an experience not to be missed.

Title: Worse Things
Author: Sally Murphy
Illustrator: Sarah Davis
Publisher: Walker Books, $14.99
Publication Date: 1 May 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760651657
For ages: 10+
Type: Verse Novel