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Reviewed by Petra Verbeek DP Hamilton Christian School Waikato
Opening sentence
"If we turn right here, we'll be almost home," I told Picasso.
Set in Australia, Frances, a Year 7 girl who is obsessed with health, bacteria and infections, has started a new life in a new town, and is not looking forward to going to school. She hides away in the library by herself to draw. Here she meets Kit with whom she forges an emerging friendship, even though they don’t do a lot of talking at the start, it is better than sitting alone and they both enjoy art. And there’s Picasso, the dog with PTSD who France’s mum hopes will distract Frances from her obsession with viruses.

Frances and Kit start spending time together, sharing their love of drawing and their appreciation of nature. As the story progresses, it is revealed that Francis is deeply sad and traumatised because she feels responsible for the death of her little brother in an awful accident. Frances has to learn to trust Kit and he her. The book cleverly explores ways that people can deal with trauma to be able to move on with their lives and allow friendships to heal even the deepest hurt.

This is a story that will make you cry but it is also a story of hope. It tells us that we need connection with others, friendship, and that there is a way back from even the deepest pain. The prose reflects Frances’ journey from deep sadness to recovery as the stilted style at the start becomes more fluent and prosaic as the novel progresses. This is a novel that will stay with you for a long time and I absolutely loved it.
Author & Illustrator: Anna Fienberg
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
ISBN: 9781706296988
Format: Paperback
Publication: Jul 2023
Ages: 12 - 14 years
Themes: Loss, trauma, dealing with grief, friendship