Number 8, by Anna Fienberg

I think the best number in the whole universe is eight. My friend, Asim, likes numbers about as much as me, but he likes them all – odd or even. Esmerelda, though, who lives across the street, isn’t so fond of numbers and she hates maths. Singing’s more her thing. She’s really good, too. Nearly as good as my mum. Mum’s a professional singer. Or was, until we had to move.

Jackson isn’t so sure about his new house. Mum has brought him to live in the suburbs, away from their life in the inner-city, to hide out from criminals who want to keep her quiet. But Jackson liked their old life and isn’t sure he can be happy here. When he meets Esmerelda, the girl from across the street, though, he realises it isn’t all bad. Then there’s his friend Asim, who shares his passion for numbers, and for the possums who live in Jackson’s yard.

But the criminals who Jackson’s mum has upset, aren’t finished with her. There’s a mustang driving up and down the street at all sorts of hours, and the phone rings constantly; mystery callers who don’t identify themselves. Jackson and his new friends could be in danger.

Number 8 is an action-packed offering from award-winning author Anna Fienberg. As well as the danger-filled plot, there is plenty of humour, and themes of friendship, family and teen relationships, as well as those of difference and of immigration. This is a lot for one book to explore, but Fienberg does it well, leaving the reader satisfied.

Suitable for readers aged twelve and over.

Number 8, by Anna Fienberg
Penguin, 2006