Jennifer Walsh

Pandora Jones by Barry Jonsberg & Crooked leg road by Jennifer Walsh

June–July 2014, no. 362

Where is the pleasure in reading a book as part of a series? A long acquaintance with known and trusted characters rewards the reader with the chance to share their growth and development through multiple challenges and adversities. For teenage readers, following protagonists their own age on this journey has particular rewards. All this, and cliffhangers, too.

Barry Jonsberg’s latest novel, Pandora Jones: Admission, is the first in a series. Jonsberg is a versatile and assured writer. His gift with character is the portrayal of young people who narrate their lives with humour and self-assurance. Dreamrider (2006) was a departure for him, depicting a character who was in psychological torment from dreams, which may or may not have been real.

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Cecily Lockwood’s heart ‘bounced like a trout’. An arresting simile on the first page of a novel is always a good sign, but will this piscatorial comparison mean anything to young readers? No matter, back to those footsteps climbing the dark stairs to twelve-year-old Cecily’s room, where she is quailing under the bed. She pictures her older brother Jeremy in the next room, his heart ‘flipping and diving’. Ah, so that’s what trouts do. Clever Sonya Hartnett.

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