Monday, July 1, 2013

Review Time #37

Steal my Sunshine by Emily Gale

During a Melbourne heatwave, Hannah's family life begins to distort beyond her deepest fears. It's going to take more than a cool change to fix it, but how can a girl who lives in the shadows take on the task alone? Feeling powerless and invisible, Hannah seeks refuge in the two anarchists of her life: her wild best friend, Chloe, and her eccentric grandmother, Essie, who look like they know how life really works. But Hannah's loyalty to both is tested, first by her attraction to Chloe's older brother, and then by Essie's devastating secret that sheds new light on how the family has lost its way. Even if Hannah doesn't know what to believe in, she'd better start believing in herself. 

Combined with Hannah's contemporary story, at the heart of Steal My Sunshine is the revelation of a shameful aspect of Australia's history and how it affected thousands of girls and women - the forced adoptions that saw 'wayward girls' and single mothers forced to give up their babies by churches and hospitals. The practice endured for decades, and only now are the numbers and the heart-wrenching stories coming to light.

Now I am a history person, I love modern history in highschool and would be doing it at uni if I didn't love sport and science that little bit more. Steal my sunshine is an Australian novel which is contemporary with Australian history aspects. 

Hannah life is taking a turn for the worst, her father leaving, her grandmother's secret as to why her mother hates her and all this when she is just starting her final year of school. Her best friend Chloe is hiding a secret and her brother, who she has had a crush on for a while, finally asks her out. Everything in Hannah's life gets complicated and it isn't just her story told either but her grandmother's, Essie's, too. 

The characters each have their own problems and the major secret that Essie has been keeping from her grandchildren is the one that brings everything out.  What I found out that I never even knew happened in Australia was the forced adoptions and Essie was someone who experienced it when her child was taken from her. When Hannah's and Essie's stories are told side by side who can see how this one event 50+ years ago is still affecting the family today. 

The romance in the novel isn't the focus at all, one chapter and that was it, it is about family and how history is still affecting families today and trying to understand who you really are. The way the characters are written is with their imperfections which really allows you understand what is going on in the family and Chloe, especially when she also finds out Essie's secret. 

Steal my Sunshine is an Australian novel with unspoken Australian history which is something that everyone should know about! The way the two stories are told simultaneously allows you to see how one event could change the way families see each other.

Rating: 4.5/5

Keely xx 

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