The morning it started Mum freaked out about the Christmas tree.
It had been thirty degrees most of the night and I wasn’t sure if I’d been asleep for any of it. I could tell from the safety of my bedroom that Mum had woken up foul: heavy footsteps in the kitchen, cupboard doors slammed, the dishwasher drawers yanked out and rammed in again. When I walked into the living room the floors were already baking underneath the sloping glass roof. The air-con remote was in the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. I pressed the button, hoping it would cool Mum down, and kept my distance.
It’s been a hot summer in suburban Melbourne and everything around Hannah seems to be melting. Mum is cranky, Dad is distant, Sam is being a jerk. Hannah is about to begin Year 11 and is trying to keep it all together with the help of her friend Chloe and her grandmother Essie. But Chloe’s wild and unpredictable and Essie has a big secret. And then there’s Evan, Chloe’s gorgeous older brother. Everything is changing, certainties are fracturing, uncertainties are everywhere. As summer holidays end, and school begins again, Emily begins to understand who she can rely on.
Sometimes the clue to the future is buried in the past. As her world unravels, Hannah explores the threads of her history and why they are relevant to her today. She’s a observer, a quiet soul who has to become a participant. In fact, she has to become the catalyst for change. Her grandmother’s secret is buried deep in her past but it has shaped Essie’s life and that of Hannah’s mother. Now it’s affecting Hannah and her family. There are themes around secrets and the damage they do, family, trust, rites-of-passage. Hannah reassesses her whole life and relationships in moving from child to young adult. Steal My Sunshine is a realistic and engaging novel about a family in crisis and about finding strength and your own way through. Recommended for mid-secondary schoolers.
Steal My Sunshine, Emily Gale Woolshed Press 2013 ISBN: 9781742758497
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author