Alex, Alex in Winter, Alessandra: Alex in Rome and Songs for Alex, first published in the 1980s, have been republished as a one-volume quartet. This provides great access and continuity for the reader. In the foreword, Lani Wendt Young aptly summarises challenges that the main character Alex faces while training for Olympic swimming. The issues that Duder writes about in the series are ones that youth continue to wrestle with today, among them social pressure, restrictive gender roles, bullying, family relationships, body image, loneliness, depression, prejudice, self-worth, stress management, balancing school sport….
The reader may easily identify with such challenges, but particularly training pressure, media exposure and gender stereotypes.
Alex is a well-rounded believable character complete with flaws and strengths. Although her language varies between a teen voice and a mature adult one, it is all the more credible as Alex seesaws through life.
Alex’s struggles are paralleled when she plays the lead in Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc, the ‘boy’ soldier, compounds Alex’s contemporary teen warrior trials of being portrayed masculine by the media, and haunted or persecuted by wrongdoings.
Also entertaining are Alex’s deliberate challenges and provocations: playing the clown, dressing as a boy and getting a short-back-and-sides haircut. Alex’s self-sabotage engages the reader.
Alex is great read that parents will also enjoy.
Title: Alex: The Quartet
Author: Tessa Duder
Publisher: Onetree house Ltd
Date of Publication: 2019
Ages: 12 upwards (adults too)
Reviewer’s name, job title, school name & region: Michele Ayres, Librarian, Motueka High School, Tasman
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence?
Prologue: I have always known that in another life I was – or will be – a dolphin.
Alex 1: It all began years ago.
You can buy this book here