The Other Side of Summer (Emily Gale, Random House)
How does a family recover from a tragedy? For Summer’s dad, it’s packing up and moving to a new country, where they can find themselves free of painful memories. For her mother it’s staying put, burrowing into her emotions in the hopes of finding a way out. And for Summer, it’s finding her own way to remember Flynn, even if that way takes her in a very unexpected direction. Away from the comfort of Mal, her best friend in England, Summer becomes someone else. She feels abandoned by those close to her so she closes herself off to new friendships, becoming snappy and withdrawn. Summer’s lifeline is Flynn’s old guitar, the Ibanez Artwood, and the young boy who mysteriously appears each time she plays it. A beautifully rendered portrayal of grief, family and leaving things behind, The Other Side of Summer is a welcome addition to the shelves of Australian middle fiction. Emily Gale’s book gives her audience the respect they deserve—recognising that younger teens need a place in literature where they too can explore the parts of their life that are challenging or sad. This perfectly pitched piece is a beauty.
Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne based writer and reviewer. She is the schools coordinator for the Stella Prize and chair of LoveOzYA