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Reviewed by Angela Thompson, Literacy & Library Lead teacher, Remarkables Primary School, Central Otago
Opening sentence
"Mum, we’re back. The river was freezing!” Sid dumped his towel on the kitchen floor and ran down the hall.
Sid’s dad arrives back from WW2 changed, angry and scared for his family. Sid has a dream of being a jockey and his sister Beryl, a teacher. Both children support their mum with day to day chores and caring for their younger siblings. Every chance Sid gets he is practicing riding to fulfill his dream of being a jockey. When Beryl sacrifices her dream to support the family financially and their father becomes more distant and angry with a determination that Sid must never become a jockey, he follows his dream in secret, which leads not only to deception but taking risks that put him in danger.

I loved this book from the moment I started reading. The characters really drew me in, and I felt empathy and sadness for the family and wanted things to get better for them. The author tackles the impact of PTSD on not only Sid's dad, but the whole family both with sensitivity and empathy. The novel gives a real sense of how soldiers coming home from WW2 would have suffered trying to adjust to normal life and support their families, when they were carrying so much with them from their experiences of war, with very little support or understanding from their families and community.

I adored the character of Sid, and was rooting for him from the start. He is brave, resilient, empathetic, honest and incredibly loyal to his family and friends. The plot builds up to a very exciting ending, and I really could not stop reading until I finished in the early hours. This is a truly great read, and I cannot wait for the sequel.

Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? No

Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes - a great class novel for Y6+

Is there a particular part of the country that it is set in? No
Publisher: Ocean Echo Books
ISBN: 9781991177308
Format: Paperback
Publication: June 2022
Ages: Young adult / Y6+
Themes: WW2, historical novel, determination, adventure, horse-racing, PTSD, family