Reviewed by Dale Harcombe
I came to this book sceptically, not sure what to expect, but from the opening sentence the narrator’s voice grabbed hold and did not let go. Twelve year old Kate, the narrator, is honest, funny, wise, thoughtful and extremely natural. When explaining about that her name is not short for anything like Katherine or Katrina, she says, ‘I’m just Kate. My parents say it’s a strong and wonderful name, like me, but I don’t feel strong or wonderful a lot of the time.’
Kate looks at life and the world as one who is part of the ‘in’ crowd. Every child will know how much being part of the ‘in’ crowd rather than on the outer, can affect behaviour and the way they’re treated at school and out of it. The comparison to the game of Snakes and Ladder on page 8 is inspired writing.
The struggle within Kate not to put herself on the ‘outside’ by befriending the new girl, Stephanie, is real and one many children will be able to relate to. So are Kate’s questions about life as she struggles to understand why God gave people free will, why He allows people to mess up the planet, why He doesn’t act in certain situations and most of all why He doesn’t give her a sign that He’s listening.
I loved the way when considering the planets and stars she says, “God, you have a great imagination’ ( page 16). The book also contains incidences of humour like Nan’s teeth in the freezer and the face Kate creates with the teeth in the glass (page 14).
When she learns she is to have a new baby brother or sister, Kate has even more questions for God. Her initial response to her parents’ remark that it will make the family ‘complete’ is to be insulted. ‘It seems I wasn’t enough for them my myself.’ (page 40).
Throughout this book Kate learns a lot about the choices we all make as humans. Kate finds, as she come to know Stephanie better, her attitude towards many views she previously held starts to change.
The blurb on the back says, ‘This is a book that will sneak into your heart, touch your soul and stay with you a long time.’ I agree. I don’t often endorse a book unreservedly. But this is one of those books.
Moya Simons says, ‘I think of this book as a child’s introduction to philosophy rather than a book about religion.’ As well as being a terrific read with believable characters, the questions raised by Kate would make good discussion points for a parent or teacher to use. Or you could simply read it as a great book. Highly recommended.
Hello God by Moya Simons
Harper Collins, 2007