Portraits of Celina by Sue Whiting

PortraitsSue Whiting  

Walker Books Australia (2013)

ISBN: 9781922077479

Reviewed by Peta Harrison

One of the problems with being a long time avid reader of adolescent fiction is that good, new novels often feel like stories revisited and one needs to be careful to give them the recognition they deserve. This is an excellent book and should find a solid readership amongst our students. Bayley has been moved in to the country by her recently widowed mother as a result of her sister ‘going off the rails’. They move to a ramshackle family home that was the location of a family disaster. On their arrival at the house Bayley finds an old box containing clothing of a bygone era. Some impulse makes her put the clothes on whereupon she begins to experience the world from a different perspective.

Celina O’Malley was 17 when she simply disappeared on her way to school one day. All of those who remember Celina and the events surrounding her disappearance insist that she was extremely happy with her life with her alternative parents and her doting boyfriend. A huge manhunt failed to turn up any sign of her or a reason for her disappearance. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that Bayley is channelling Celina and her need for venegence.

An absorbing read with the historical era reflected well in the narrative and modern social issues reflected well.

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