August & Jones
Lothian Children’s, 2022
280pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
There is an old saying that every cloud has a silver lining but who knew the extent of it as Jones and her mother and father packed the last of their belongings into their old red ute, and said goodbye to their farm in Cotton forever, driven off by drought and forced to head for life in a tiny apartment in the city where her dad had a job with his brother.
How could such a move, one made by many in recent years, have such a widespread impact as this story, inspired by the true story of two children in Victoria, unfolds.
Because, as much as 11 year-old Jones misses her rural life, she also has a prosthetic eye because of early childhood cancer, and now the vision in her other eye is getting blurry. Tough and scary at any time but when your passions are running and rock-climbing, it can seem like life is over, But at her new school, she is paired with August, a somewhat introverted little lad whose dad makes him play footy and even though August hates it, he persists because otherwise he fears being invisible. A friendship blooms and blossoms as together they take on all the challenges facing them, and as the news about Jones’s eye is the worst, make a Must-See bucket list of the things she wants to see before she loses her sight completely – a list that has tentacles that reach out to embrace many and change those lives as well as both Jones and August.
Told by the two children in alternating chapters, this is a moving, heart-warming, tear-jerking story about family and friendship overcoming heartbreak and hardship that will appeal to independent readers who like real-life stories that are both inspirational and aspirational. And as both Jones and August reach the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, signaling not the end but the beginning of new adventures, you just want to cheer!!
It wouldn’t surprise me to see this one among the CBCA Book of the Year nominees in 2023, following the success of The Little Wave.
Worth reading past your bedtime just to find out what happens…