Pam Macintyre

Adolescent girls aged sixteen to seventeen are at the centre of these three Young Adult novels: girls whose heightened emotional states prompt supernatural events. Broken families, disconnection from parents, obsession, music, art, and death impel the protagonists to seek solace and healing in the metaphysical. For Shirley Marr (Black Dog Books, $18.95 pb, 272 pp, 9781742031903), it is the Chinese understanding of the ‘preloved’ and their resonance in the present that engenders the attractive ghost Logan. For Kirsty Eagar (Penguin, $19.95 pb, 314 pp, 9780143206552) it is the creative impulse, the painter’s obsession with ‘seeing’ beyond the surface of things, that evokes the dark landscape in which Abbie struggles for meaning. For Rosanne Hawke (University of Queensland Press, $19.95 pb, 252 pp, 9780702238826), it is profound grief following the death of the protagonist’s brother.

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To make Ernest Giles’s trek across the scrub and desert of southern Australia interesting to younger readers, relate it through the eyes of a young protagonist. It was an inspired choice to invent Taj, twelve-year-old son of the historical figure Saleh Mohamed, Afghan cameleer, and an equally inspired choice to invent Taj’s beloved young camel, Mustara. The love and respect between camel and boy lie at the heart of the novel, and symbolise the expedition’s ultimate success.

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There is much to like in this début Young Adult novel: its straightforward storytelling, distinctive central characters, well-tuned adolescent dialogue, and humorous depiction of first love...

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The fifth book in a planned series of seven would not be surprising if it were science fiction or fantasy. But Burning for Revenge is neither, rather its connections are with the much more currently unfashionable genres of adventure and war stories. And what a war adventure series it is. This fifth volume, in hardback, has been on the bestseller lists in this journal and daily newspapers since its publication – not usual for young adult books. The first, Tomorrow When the War Began, is fourth on Angus & Robertson’s Top 100 Books Voted by Australians – after Bryce Courtenay, but before the Bible!

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