The Sideways Orbit of Evie Hart
288pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99
Evie Hart likes rules and routines. A lot. But as she embarks on her very last year of primary school, it feels like all the rules around her are being broken and the routines are definitely being upset, starting with mum not eating dinner with the family any more.
Then she discovers her mum, a journalist, is the author of the horoscope page for the local newspaper, and because it has her photo, her friends and their families know too, and they don’t hold back letting Evie know they think her mum writes and tells lies. To make things worse, she learns her beloved stepdad Lee is moving to Dubbo for at least a year, perhaps splitting the family in two forever! So when Evie’s class starts learning about the Earth’s place in the universe, it makes Evie think about her own place in the world and where she belongs.
But the more Evie learns about the sky and the stars, guided both by her kind, compassionate and knowledgeable teacher Miss Owen and her mother’s insights, the more she learns that changes in the world can’t always be controlled. And maybe that’s not a bad thing as she starts to make sense of and map out her own life as a more confident person.
Even though the title is The Sideways Orbit… there are many parallels to the lives of the readers that this book will appeal to, and so it will resonate with them as they make that sometimes tricky transition from tween to teen and young adult. While so much of her life so far has focused on the here and now, as she becomes more independent, bigger questions raise their heads – questions whose answers seem bigger and more complex than the universe – and Evie, like her readers, has to learn to navigate these in the context and boundaries of their own lives. And that doesn’t even include puberty! Straddling the reality of the day-today while contemplating the huge world of what-ifs and what-could-bes that is opening before her, including high school on the horizon, can be overwhelming but there is comfort in knowing that there is a path forward and a way through. So even if you feel like you’re going sideways in an endless spin, there is hope…
Many who write for and work with very young children talk about helping them understand and navigate “big feelings”. This story helps those who are at a different transition navigate theirs.