Living Next to Lulah, by Nette Hilton

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

As the seventh born of the seventh born, Ari Greimshaw believes she has the gift of second sight- a gift she doesn’t want. When her friend’s annoying little brother Colin Bucket, better known as Fungus, dies Ari blames herself. In a few short sentences on the first page, the reader is drawn in to the situation Ari finds herself in.

From there, the story switches between the present and the past with the past being written in italics so readers are clear about what is happening and when.

If it’s not bad enough that she blames herself for Colin’s death, Ari finds the relationship between Lulah, who has been her next door neighbour and best friend for almost as long as she can remember, deteriorating day by day.

This novel gives a good picture of what can happen when misunderstandings, jealousy, and boyfriends enter the picture. Girls in particular, will relate to this story about growing up and the way ideas and even close friendships change over time especially as suspicions grow.

Nette Hilton has been teaching and writing for many years, and it shows in the way she uses language eg the ‘black car that must have arrived on cushioned wheels’ or the sky ‘dark and tight with promise.’ She is also expert at withholding information till the appropriate time in the story. The result is a tale of suspense and secrets that will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens.

Living Next to Lulah, by Nette Hilton
Angus&Robertson an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006
RRP $16.99AUD