After January, by Nick Earls

This begins in January, and January is okay. It begins like December as though their join is seamless. Sometimes as though the bright days of summer will last forever. But the end of January is the end of the known world. This is when I stand at the edge. It’s been easy till now, relatively. I’ve had a new school year to face each January, but not this year. School is over, so there is not the usual symmetry about the holidays. The feeling of days leading up to Christmas and New Year and then away. Across the slow heat-heavy weeks of January and back to school
This January I’m waiting for my offer, waiting for the code that will tell me what happens next.

Alex Delaney has finished school and is waiting to hear about his options for next year. Meanwhile, he’s at the beach house at Caloundra where he and his family always spend summer. The long, hot days are passed slowly, reading, swimming, body-surfing and waiting. Waiting for the days until ‘what happens next’ happens. Then Alex meets a girl. A girl who is different from anyone he’s ever met before. A girl who won’t even tell him her name at first. Gradually the endless days shorten until there are not enough hours in the day. The deadline of university offers that had seemed so far away, now seems to be coming too close too quickly. The decision he will have to make about university diminishes in importance as others decisions are calling. After January was originally released in 1996, but this new edition also includes ‘Juliet’, a short story Alex wrote and which is referred to several times throughout.

Life is a series of climbing to the top and then beginning again at the bottom. The end of school is a major milestone in life and the holidays immediately afterwards are a time of limbo. The onus of decision-making changes. Where progression from year to year at school was ordered and largely inevitable, things change. To go to university or not? To take a break or to go straight on? Alex has been on this trajectory towards university a long time and now the time of decision is here. There has been no doubt in his mind that this is his pathway. Meeting a girl slowly changes everything. Not because she advocates he abandon his path, but because she shows him that there is more than one way. ‘After January’ is told in first person and the reader travels with him as he begins to open his eyes and see the world around him in a new way. Recommended for mid- to upper-secondary readers.

After January

After January, Nick Earls
UQP 2010
ISBN: 9780702237652

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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