Audrey Turner is making a slow and painful recovery from a bullying incident at her previous school. Three girls have been excluded for their part in the affair and Audrey spent several weeks in hospital before coming home to her family who have been affected as badly as she, but are still able to give her the love and comfort she needs.
Now she stays at home, waiting to start at another school when the new term begins – the mere thought of which brings her out in a sweat, but her psychologist Dr Sarah is confident that she will make that goal, and many more besides. Audrey wishes she felt the same way!
But all is not doom and gloom and darkened rooms: Audrey’s sixteen year old brother Frank wants to be a Gamer, specifically on LOC (that’s Land of Conquerors to you) and he has a team that includes Linus, his totally cool schoolmate, who comes round often to practice: they want to get onto the next levels and compete in the Regionals – then after that the Finals, then After That ….. well, who knows? The sky’s the limit! And miracles do happen in Audrey’s pathetically uncool little life, for it appears that Linus thinks she’s pretty! Even though she hides behind dark glasses ALL THE TIME because she can’t bear people to look her in the eye. He actually comes to sit with her when she’s watching TV in her darkened room, and one magic day he even holds her hand, something she hasn’t allowed anyone to do since The Incident.
Then Audrey’s mum spoils everything: Frank is spending FAR TOO MUCH TIME IN FRONT OF A SCREEN! ( The clarion cry of all 21st Century Mums). If he doesn’t change his ways, young man (another sure sign of Mum Rage) then she will throw his PC out the window. And eventually, she does! Well, she told him she would. She is a woman of her word. Linus is despatched just as speedily – he and Frank can hardly practice if Frank has nothing to practice on, and without Linus’s visits to look forward to, Audrey’s world shrinks again. Until Linus thinks up a solution: Would Audrey feel up for a visit to Starbucks? With him?
And so begins Audrey’s reintroduction to streets, people, noise, traffic – all the things she wasn’t able to face in the preceding months. Maybe she’s not such a loser after all, especially with someone like Linus to support her and help her to feel normal. As Doctor Sarah says, life is an upward graph, full of peaks and troughs, but as long as it keeps aiming upward from the troughs everything is normal – and that is what’s happening, finally, for Audrey: she’s moving upwards.
Ms Kinsella has captured with sharp accuracy 21st century family life with all its pitfalls and dangers; the bullying incident is never detailed and that is all to the good; what happened to fictional Audrey is tragically common and it takes a brave and clever writer to put it on paper without revealing awful detail. And an added bonus: Ms Kinsella’s humour. This is one of the funniest books ever about a serious subject, because it’s the story of a loving family; how tragedy affects them, and how they deal with it. Totally cool!
FIVE STARS(And I'm proud to say that my granddaughter Ava recommended that I read this book: she is indeed a great reader! Thanks heaps, darling. xx)
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