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This 2009 Prinz Award winner (for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction) by Australian author Melina Marchetta provided diversion and certainly offers more than your average YA read, but right now that's as far out on a high limb as I will climb in praise of the novel. (It's dangerous out there: read this book and see...)
And yet. Imagine its teen appeal:
* Townies meet Cadets meet Academy students for war games.
* Violent death meets little girls in boarding school.
* Kidnapping meets cow manure.
* Innocent flirtation meets intense sex.
* The redemptive power of telling our stories meets a puzzle-piece mystery and a book within a book.
Throw in 80's pop references and the occasional nod to To Kill a Mockingbird and you've got yourself a YA novel.
If you're drawn to strong yet mercurial protagonists, teens battling to-the-pain using strategic military maneuvers, and family drama doused in a heavy dose of fate, then this just might be your next great read.
* Online Inquiry & Action: Find out more about Australia, especially Jellicoe Road and the Australian bush. Let me know if you sleuth out just where this road is. Me? Tried. MFB. OR:
Reach out to kids whose parents have died or must be absent. Try Friends of Orphans or maybe National Foster Parent Association. Offer to help.
* Creative Spark: Take an episode from your childhood and tell it like a fiction. Offer suspense and challenge and intense emotion. Let it become a new story rather than history.
* Connection: Look up a long lost childhood friend or revisit a childhood memory, especially one that involved your friends and play out in nature.