Author: Rosie Borella
Genres: YA contemporary with elements of fantasy
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Source: received for review from the publisher
Sixteen-year-old Amber never expected to find romance while working in an old people’s home…but then Jack Chant is not what she expected either. He’s young, exciting and enigmatic – and deeply troubled by something that happened in his past, something he can’t quite remember. Gradually Amber suspects that Jack’s past might be a whole lot further back in time than he realises. Is he solid flesh and blood, or just some kind of dreamy fantasy?
A sweetly romantic coming-of-age story in which Amber learns more than most teens about getting old, falling in love and letting go.
As usual, an Allen and Unwin book has pleasantly surprised me. The blurb made me think that it would be mostly a ghost story, but really it’s more about Amber, so it feels more like a contemporary. It’s based in the nursing home where Amber works, which is a really refreshing setting from all the school-based YA.
The themes of growing old, death and living were really strong, and the element of the supernatural (Jack Chant) only added to this. I was taken aback by the ending – I didn’t see it coming at all, and it seemed fitting.
I also loved the addition of Mrs Maitland, who’s like a grandma to Amber. Halfway through the book Amber switches to calling her Vera, and to me this represented a real change in Amber’s thinking – it’s like Amber’s grown up and is taking care of Mrs Maitland, rather than the other way around. It’s like the circle of life.
Sorry, I had to. Anyway, Lion King gifs aside, for some reason that little thing resonated with me, and I may be reading too much into it, but that’s the fault of my English teachers.
Amber’s guilt after a certain incident made perfect sense to me, and I related to her easily. She was scared, and vulnerable, and didn’t want to own up to something. Really, she hadn’t done anything wrong, and I rooted for her all the way.
The only complaints I really have are about the pacing. In some moments it seemed too slow, but the ending seemed too fast. I didn’t really like the prologue, since it confused me and didn’t serve its purpose well.
But there’s a lot to like about this book. Amber makes some great friends, does some amazing things, and cares about the elderly, which is a message we don’t hear very often in YA.
It was sweet. It was funny. The supporting characters were well-developed and had truth to them. All in all, a really lovely story from Rosie Borella. I’ll be interviewing her on Aussie Owned and Read soon, so watch out for that!
Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties
Thanks to Allen and Unwin for my ARC copy! I promise I did not accept cake or any other bribes to write my review. However, I do accept cake in general if anyone wants to volunteer…