Ford Street Publishing (2012 – originally published 1996)
Reviewed by Peta Harrison
Isobelle Carmody never writes enough to satisfy my need for great reading. This is a reissue of her novel (first published in 1996), and it is to her great credit that it still has much to offer the current crop of early adolescent readers. Although I have put secondary as the reading age this is because the novel examines our reactions to grief on the death of a loved one through the story telling of Jack. He sees the world as being devoid of colour and grief as a journey that is travelled differently by each of us. The book itself is quite suitable for younger readers but I feel that they would not ‘get’ much of what the story is attempting to explore. There are quite a few reviews of this new edition of the book that recommend its use as a class novel for its exploration of theme and use of imagery of which I would agree.
The novel moves between the real world of Jack, his sister, father and best friend, all of whom are dealing with the death of Jack’s mother in different ways and the world on the other side of the mirror. Jack decides to write a story to explain his understanding of his mother’s death. At various points within this story he discusses what he has written with his insightful younger sister. I love the way that there are references to that other story on the other side of the mirror and the way the family moves through its grief. A wonderful book that should be shared.