The Year the Maps Changed (Danielle Binks, Lothian)
The Year the Maps Changed is Melbourne-based writer Danielle Binks’ debut novel. The year is 1999 and in small-town Sorrento, Victoria, 11-year-old Fred is lost within the complexity of a mixed-up family. Her mother died when she was six, her beloved Pop has now gone away, and her adoptive father Luca and his girlfriend Anika have just announced they’re having a new baby. Just when Fred feels her world can’t get any more complicated, 400 Kosovar Albanian refugees arrive to be housed in a ‘safe haven’ on an isolated headland nearby. As implied by its title, this novel is about how we choose to navigate landscapes—familial, ethical, geographical—that change in ways we cannot always understand or control. As Fred’s life becomes more intertwined with those of the refugees, the novel’s main message shines through: that as individuals and communities we do in fact have the power to form our own opinions and make a collective difference. Binks explores big, timely topics as well as universal themes of friendship and loss in the most sensitive of ways. Brimming with small acts of kindness and with a cast of beautifully diverse and nuanced characters, The Year the Maps Changed is essential reading for middle-grade and adult readers alike.
Jacqui Davies is a freelance writer and reviewer based in South Australia