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

Saturday 2 January 2021

Review: October, October

October is an unusual name for a little girl but then October is an unusual little girl. 

She and her father live in a tiny house deep in the woods and they live WILD, without any of the modern conveniences most people take for granted, growing their own food or harvesting it from natural sources and completely in tune with their environment.

This essentially organic existence was not one that October’s mother could cope with and she has been gone since her daughter was tiny. 

As the years roll along her mother tries to contact October but the little girl is firmly resistant to all overtures.

The year October turns eleven everything changes. This is the year October rescues and raises a baby owl and it’s the year that her father has a dreadful accident falling out of a tree and it’s the year her mother not only comes back but takes October into her sphere of city, school, shops, traffic and other children. 

October’s despair at being so abruptly transplanted from her familiar and isolated home to a world of constant busyness and noise along with blaming herself for her dad’s accident and her misery over missing Stig the baby owl is palpable, and no reader would be able to remain impervious to her plight.

Determined to be uncooperative and remain aloof from both her mother and the overtures of other children October is nonetheless slowly drawn into this new existence in perhaps the most unexpected way. Her love of finding her treasures in the woods finds a different direction when she is drawn into the thrill of mud larking and discovers in herself a true passion for uncovering history.

Gradually October finds herself forging a new life that embraces both her parents and her homes, different though they be. Katya Balen’s beautiful and poetic writing is, as always, en pointe for this moving and warm narrative. Readers will find themselves immersed in October’s life with all their senses engaged through the lyrical descriptive language and the absolutely stunning cover art (with small illustrations throughout) by Angela Harding will be an instant invitation to pick up this novel.

Title: October, October
Author: Katya Balen
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books, $14.99  
Publication Date: September 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781526620491
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction