So often we see young people struggling with boundaries from school and home, ‘finding themselves’ and becoming aware of bigger issues in the world. All this while they are studying, often working part time and trying to live up to everyone else’s perception and expectations of them.
The main character, Kayla, in this book will be instantly recognisable to this book’s target audience, a girl who is growing up and learning to make her own decisions and mistakes. I think that the realistic way these multi-layered issues are entwined will resonate a lot with female junior and senior secondary school students.
The inclusion of the whale connection and the work of Project Jonah is lovely and very believable. This would also appeal to our environmentally aware young people.
The descriptions and dialogue in the book are very effective eg: “What was I doing? I’m so stupid. I should have gone for help...”
There are some thoughtful messages about growing up, friendship, trust and love in this book which makes it an interesting and relevant read.
Title: If Only
Author: Adele Broadbent
Publisher: One Tree House Ltd NZ
Date of Publication: February 2020
Ages: 12-16 years
Reviewer: Judith Hartstone, HOF English, James Cook High School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening Sentence: ‘Music pounded into the street’
Adele Broadbent is available through the Writers in Schools programme