The Stars at Oktober Bend
Old Barn Books (12+)
Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has a brain injury, the result of an assault. Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. When Manny first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship, sailing through the stars. He has a poem in his pocket and he knows the words by heart. And he is sure that girl has written them. When Manny and Alice meet they find the beginnings of love and healing.
Told in their distinctive and memorable narrative voices this is a wonderfully evocative tale of two damaged young people who find redemption and hope in their love for each other. The author's use of poetry as a way for Alice to convey her innermost feelings and to reach out to the world around her, works extraordinarily well and the poems are simple and beautiful. The lyrical, outstanding writing throughout develops strong characterization and a vivid sense of place, as their tragic stories gradually unfold; building to a dramatic climax that brings each strand of the novel together in an intensely satisfying way.
Glenda Millard is a highly respected author of books for children of all ages, who deserves to be better known outside her Australian homeland. Her novel A Small Free Kiss in the Dark was the Winner of the 2009 Queensland Premier's Award for young adults and included on the Honour List for the 2012 International Board of Books for Young People. Books from her popular Kingdom of Silk series have also received individual awards and her novel The Novice was chosen for a White Raven Award in 2006. Glenda has also written many picture books, including The Duck and the Darklings, illustrated by Stephen Michael King.
Glenda began to write when her four children became teenagers and now writes full-time, often inspired by the landscapes of Victoria, Australia, where she has lived all her life.