Atmospheric: The Burning Question of Climate Change, by Carole Wilkinson

Sofia started going on about how climate change will, you know, end the world, how everyone should be doing something. I don’t know what. How the atmosphere is full of greenhouse gases. I looked up at the blue sky. It looked all right to me. Vasily was listening to her, nodding.
Sofia finished and people cheered. Vasily clapped. Someone else stepped up to give a speech. Sofia was still chained to the column. Three policemen walked over to her with a pair of boltcutters. A news crew was making its way through the crowd.
‘Won’t she get arrested?’ I said.
I looked at the pamphlet. Obviously this was something she thought worth getting arrested for.

Everyone has heard of climate change – or should have. But though it is widely accepted that this problem is massive and affects both our present and our future, the concept can be difficult to grasp, as can the idea that everyone can to make a difference (and should be tryin to do so).

Atmospheric: The Burning Story of Climate Change provides an excellent insight into what climate change is, and how humans’ actions now and back through history have changed the climate, with devastating impact.

Chapters explaining the science of climate change, the effects of pollution, excessive consumption, agriculture and more are interwoven with fictionlaised first person accounts of teens present at key moments or witnessing the impact of changes over history. There are also text boxes with brief biographies of key figures in science and technology. The text is accessible but very direct both about how we find ourselves in our current predicament, and what we need to do about it.

This is both an excellent educative tool, and inspirational,  and will leave readers better informed and keen to make a difference.

Atmospheric: The Burning Story of Climate Change , by Carole Wilkinson
Black Dog Books, 2015
ISBN 9781925126372

Shallow Breath, by Sara Foster

The question begins to circle her as she hangs in the freezing dark water. The surface is only a few metres above, and she kicks her fins hard. Nothing happens. She is still trapped. Alone.

Desi Priest is coming home – but it’s not a joy filled homecoming. Two years ago she made a terrible mistake which shattered the lives of her family and that of her best friend, Rebecca. Some people are happy to see her – especially her good friend, Pete, who has been there for her for years. Others, like her daughter Maya have mixed feelings. It’s hard to forgive a mother who ahs missed so man important milestones. And others Desi is sure will not be happy to see her.

One person, though, Desi doesn’t expect to be waiting for her. There is a woman she has never met who shares a bond with Desi and with Maya. She has come seeking Desi’s help. If Desi helps her, she is risking her life and her already fragile future. If she doesn’t she may be turning her back on her beliefs, and placing Maya at risk. As she struggles with both her past and the present, Desi and her family come to grips with what has happened and face some uncomfortable truths.

Shallow Breath could easily have been an overcomplicated novel – there are seven or eight viewpoint characters, settings in five continents, and a slew of issues being addressed. But Foster draws them all together beautifully, and the switches are part of the layering of understanding which takes the reader on a journey towards understanding what has gone on and what is happening now. Several of the ke characters are animal lovers, keen to rescue or help animals including dolphins, whale sharks, elephants and kangaroos, and this is linked too to issues of domestic abuse and violence, ensuring that the various subplots link. Foster also has a keen sense of place, and West Australian readers will love the setting of Yanchep and Atlantis Marine Park both during its years of operation and now, abandoned as it is.

Shallow Breath invites breathless anticipation, building towards a shocking climax. It is a really satisfying read.

Shallow Breath

Shallow Breath, by Sara Foster
Bantam, 2013
ISBN 9781742753997

Available from good bookstores and online.