Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Anna and the Swallow Man from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

Anna and the Swallow Man is a fairytale, in the Grimms style, set in Poland during WWII. Anna’s father attends a meeting and never returns home. Seven-year-old Anna then turns to a man she meets, whom she calls the Swallow Man. Together they traverse the country. The Swallow Man teaches her how to survive and she in turn teaches him about compassion.

The writing in this is poignant and the age recommendation is based not on sex or violence but for the maturity needed to suck the marrow out of this one.

Age recommendation: 15+

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Inbetween Days by Vikki Wakefield

Inbetween Days from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

There is a lethargy in Inbetween Days that’s hard to get past. Jack is seventeen years old. She has quit school, is working at a roadhouse, is living with her sister and having sex with a boy she loves who doesn’t love her. Slowly things change as a neighbour comes back to town. The highlights of the book are the evocative depictions of place and the quirky characters. The plot, however, lagged. All up though I found it fairly depressing and the hope presented at the end was too little too late.

Age recommendation: 14+

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Average

How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss

How Not to Disappear- review from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

‘How Not to Disappear’ tells two stories, the story of Hattie pregnant at seventeen and Gloria an elderly lady struggling with dementia. These two stories intersect in a road trip across England. Like many YA novels this one explores themes of identity. As Gloria begins to feel as if she’s losing herself she tells her stories┬áto Hattie in an effort to not disappear. Hattie in turn needs to decide who she is and what she is capable of. A fairly simple read about the importance of family and friends and the parts of ourselves that are embedded in them.

Age recommendation: 12+

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Average