It was Dunedin Diary book review time on Channel 9 Television this evening. So here are my notes on what I intended to say about the two books I selected. Of course what actually came out of my mouth was a bit different, but that's what you get with a good case of the nerves, a startled looking Dougal and the producer making wild gestures about running out of time!
Mother’s Day by Laurence Fearnley.
This novel is about Maggie, for whom life as a working solo mum in Invercargill is tough. Her son is heading off the rails and been in trouble with the police; she’s looking after her grandson, Storm, while her flighty daughter is dealing with twins and a difficult relationship in Auckland. She struggles being employed by her sister who is well off and rubs it in while she juggles life on the poverty line. Things start to come to a crisis point when she meets Tim, a new client who is wheel-chair bound, but it is also this challenging relationship that offers her some hope and a welcome escape into music. And that is the thing with this novel, although the writer paints a very bleak picture of Maggie’s life, she lets her tenacity, strength and determination shine through.
I loved this book, the writing and description is evocative and Laurence captures painfully well the daily struggle of the poor working class, but she gives hope, which is what makes this a wonderful novel. I highly recommend it.
Sting by Raymond Huber.
This is a children’s novel that all kids will enjoy, but which is particularly appealing to that often neglected group of reader – boys. My two loved it, and have re-read and re-read it.
The story is about Ziggy the bee who begins to realise he’s a bit different from the other bees in the hive, and is even ostracised by some, called Odd-Bee. He does have allies in the hive, including the Queen Bee, who sends him off on missions, where he begins to discover why he is different, and have to deal with humans.
What I really loved about this book was the fact the author didn’t Hollywoodise the story. None of the bees drive cars, they behave as bees would. Yet, there’s action and drama, wars with wasps, humans conducting secret and deadly experiments and a hunt for killer bees.
So I highly recommend this book, and so do my boys. It’s a great adventure story for them, and they’ll also learn a lot about the life of bees along the way.