Game as Ned, by Tim Pegler

I see my country below. Wonder if it will protect me like the hills looked after Kelly. Then the hail cracks one of the windowpanes beside me. Blind panic. Hands leap about my body. Feel to see if I’ve been shot.

Erin and Ned are an unlikely pairing. Erin is fiery and always talking. Ned never talks. Ever. He has been silent all his life, trapped inside his head. But somehow, the two become friends, with Erin doing all the talking and Ned listening and absorbing.

But not everyone likes them. Ned is the target of the town bully, who thinks it is fun to pick on someone who can’t answer back. Erin also attracts trouble, and when she sees Ned being picked on, she has to stand up for him, even if it draws attention to herself. Soon, both are in trouble, and Ned is on the run, trying to be as brave as the bushrangers he has long been fascinated with.

Game as Ned is an absorbing young adult read, told from the dual perspectives of the two protagonists, with the first section told by Ned, the second by Erin, and the third in alternating chapters by each of them. Ned, as his narrative shows, is an intelligent boy who sees and feels more than many people expect. Only Erin, their boss Mick and Ned’s grandfather see beyond the silence, with Ned unable to speak or to stand up for himself. Erin seems opposite, with her talkative nature sometimes being her downfall, but as we get to know her we see that her noise is almost a form of silence, masking what lies within.

Readers aged 12 and over will be drawn into the story, carried from chapter to chapter by events and by the well-drawn characters.

Superb reading.

Game as Ned

Game as Ned, by Tim Pegler
Angus & Robertson, 2007

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