I've only just started my annual exploration of the CBCA shortlist in the Younger Readers category for 2020, and if this one is anything to go by, the standard is really high! Kelly has managed to unpack many authentic struggles in this novel, and has accomplished this with sensitivity and honesty.
As a teacher-librarian, I was excited by the many possibilities this book presents. There are so many levels that can be explored - contrasting the point of view of Oliver's sister, mother and aunt and their interactions with Oliver, not to mention considering what life must be like for Oliver himself; the clever use of setting and imagery; and the recurring theme of fish and ocean life - being the observed and being the observer.
As a reader, it was satisfying and thought-provoking. Kelly alludes to the gamut of challenges faced by the family - emotional, financial, social, just to name a few, all with a delicate touch. There was a well-balanced mix of tension and humour culminating at the end, resulting in a defining book of resilience and love.
On this page, I don my much-loved (and now well-worn) Teacher Librarian hat.