Friday, 30 July 2010

Cicada Summer by Kate Constable

1st July 2010, Allen & Unwin (imprint of Frances Lincoln)
192 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Children's, 7+

Clouds: 3
Cushions: 1
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 3
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+

Summary from Frances Lincoln

Eloise has recently lost her mother, and her get-rich-quick dad has moved them to his home town to turn the derelict family mansion into a convention centre. Eloise has stopped speaking and is something of a lost soul, but she feels an immediate bond with the old house, and begins spending all her time there. When she meets a 'ghost girl' who may or may not be from the house's past, events take a strange - and ultimately dangerous - turn. Beautifully written, poignant and gripping at the same time, this is a charming and atmospheric story of personal growth, overcoming grief and the true nature of friendship and family.

When I first saw the book, I knew from the cover it would become one I'll always treasure. The black and white illustration of the two girls, with the dashes of colour from the flowers reflects the nature of the story itself. It is a story which I believe is timeless. No matter what age the reader lives/will live in, they will be captivated by the magic of Eloise's tale.

I grew attached to Eloise early on in the story. Losing a parent is said to be the toughest event a person can experience in life. It was tough enough that Eloise clammed and entered her own little world. She doesn't feel wanted. She doesn't know what to do with herself. She's dumped with a family member that she's rarely seen, which hardly draws her out of her shell. She retreats further in it, and avoids contact with her new neighbours. That's when she meets the 'ghost'.

She isn't chatty with the ghost at all. They play a bit, and slowly they form tenuous bonds of friendship. Eloise doesn't know who the girl is, but the world the girl lives in is very real. As real as the real world. Together, through art, the two girls bond. Not only that, the ghost girl gives Eloise confidence. Slowly she starts to take more of an interest in the world around her. This has effects on everyone she knows. There is a lot of inner and outer turmoil along the way, and because of the ghost girl an unpleasant event occurs.

Once the nicest elements of the story was the realism. The ending is positive, but it isn't a total happily ever after ending. Eloise's life is improved as she comes out of her shell, but I think she's still got a tough road ahead. One which she doesn't have to face completely alone though. I think anyone reading this book will be touched the emotional journey all the characters - not just Eloise - have to go through.

Cicada Summer has been selected for 2010 Prime Minister's Literary Awards! How exciting is that!

Kate has her own blog here.

If you liked this, try Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp by Odo Hirsch


sarahem said...

Great review, I love the cover of the book too. I want to own it just because it's pretty.

Cass said...

Aww this looks so cute! The storyline sounds so endearing. I'll be looking for this one. It sounds great!

Nayuleska said...

It's a book I kept putting on top of the pile just so I could look at it.