A Straight Line to My Heart, by Bill Condon

Tiff loves to read – but she’s pretty surprised to meet a boy who likes to read, too. What’s even more surprising is that Davey seems to want to get know her. Maybe things are about to turn around for her. But it’s not going to be plain sailing for Tiff…

There’s nothing quite as good as folding up into a book and shutting the world outside. If I pick the right one I can be beautiful, or fall in love, or live happily ever after. Maybe even all three.

If you can’t get a boy, get a book, that’s my motto.

Tiff loves to read – but she’s pretty surprised to meet a boy who likes to read, too. What’s even more surprising is that Davey seems to want to get know her. Maybe things are about to turn around for her.

But it’s not going to be plain sailing for Tiff. She’s just finished school for ever and is about to start work experience at the local paper, a stepping stone to the career as a journalist she’s always dreamed of. The reporter there, Shark, is hard-nosed and seemingly unimpressed to have a new recruit to take under his wing. Tiff’s best friend, Kayla, has some big news to share with her that she’s nt going to like. And at home, Reggie – part grandad, part father, part mart – is coughing  alot, and giving up smoking because, as he declares, he’s cactus.

A Straight Line to My Heart is a brilliant, touching, story of life, first love, and family – in its different forms. Tiff’s mother died when she was born, and there’s no mention of her brith father, but Reggie and his step son Bull are family enough for her. Kayla, her best friend, also has a mixed up family, finding a way to be together, and Tiff’s new family at the newspaper proves to be an unlikely source of support for her.

Bill Condon has a reputation for excellence. His previous novel, Confessions of a Liar, thief and Failed Sex God, was the winner of the inaugural Young Adult Fiction prize int he Prime Minsiter’s Literary Awards, and No Worries was an honour book in the CBCA Awards. A Straight Line to My Heart will not disappoint fans of Condon’s  work, and will win him plenty of new ones as well.But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy book to read. There is humour and warmth, but there’s tough stuff, too, and if you’re prone to crying at sad bits, you’ll need tissues for this one.

Just brilliant.
A Straight Line to My Heart

A Straight Line to My Heart, by Bill Condon

Allen & Unwin, 2011 ISBN 9781742377308

This book can be purchased in any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Friendship Maker, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Welcome to my Manual.
My name is Lara Zany and I am an official Friendship Matchmaker.
If you’re reading this Manual it’s probably because you’re sick and tired of feeling lonely. Or maybe you have a friend but you’re not sure where you stand with them. Or maybe you’re the third wheel in a trio. Or can’t work out how to strike up a conversation with somebody in the canteen line. Maybe you’re the one who gets picked last at sports. Don’t worry. I’m here for you. You’ve come to the right place!

Lara Zany has it sorted. She knows just what friendship is and how to make it happen. She’s in Grade Five at Potts Court Primary School and is their official Friendship Matchmaker. She knows just how to help start conversations, avoid bullies, repair misunderstandings and much more. And everyone is happy with the service she’s providing. But now, there’s a new girl at school. Emily Wong doesn’t seem to understand the rules. In fact, she seems determined to break all Lara’s rules. Lara tries to save her from the bullies and from standing out, suggesting that she’ll never make friends if she keeps going. Instead of being grateful Emily challenges her to a competition.

Lara has put a lot of energy into her Manual. She is sure that it will soon be published by Harry Potter’s publisher and she will be catapulted into the world as an instant millionaire. But that’s the future. Right now, she’s keeping the manual a secret and most of her school energy is invested in sorting out all the friendships at school. There are rules for escaping the attention of the school bully, and for keeping your friends. Only occasionally is there a hint at the events that precipitated this preoccupation with analysing the ‘rules of friendship’. Readers will recognise the LBC (loner by choice), Trios, Quads, BOBF (Bus Only Best Friends), and some of the conversational gambits. The Friendship Matchmaker uses first person, and allows the reader to ‘read between the lines’, seeing what’s going on behind Lara’s words. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

The Friendship Matchmaker, Randa Abdel-Fattah
Omnibus Books 2011
ISBN: 9781862919204

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
www.clairesaxby.com

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.