Stride slid out of bed. He stood in the doorway, watching his mother outlined in the glow from the open fire. She had her back to him, her head down, her long fair hair swept to one side. The telephone was hanging loosely from her hand.
‘Mum?’ Stride’s voice was low and throbbed in his throat. ‘Mum?’
She turned, eyes wide, in the half light.
‘Oh, Stride, you’re awake…’
‘What is it?’
She didn’t answer.
Stride’s father has died in a fishing accident and everything in his world is changing. Annie, his sister is avoiding conflict and all Stride and his mother seem to do is fight. Ferd, his father’s sulphur-crested cockatoo, seems to be the only constant in their new post-dad world. And even Ferd is grieving. Stride takes over care of Ferd, determined to keep him close and therefore safe. The list of jobs to maintain their old house overlooking the ocean grows longer and longer as Stride struggles to understand. He meets Jess, a summer camper, who frustrates and intrigues him, and asks questions of his aging grandfather. Between them, and with the help of Ferd, they bring Stride to a better understanding of himself.
Stride’s Summer, set in a small Australian coastal town, explores the challenges facing an almost-adolescent boy following the untimely death of his father. His suffering is mirrored in the behaviour of the cockatoo his father raised from a chick. His new friend, Jess, cuts through his grief and helps him to accept some of the changes that follow his father’s death. Stride also learns to see other points of view, particularly those of his mother and his grandfather. Stride’s anger and confusion are sympathetically and realistically drawn as is his dawning interest in Jess. There are plenty of themes to explore, including the stages of grief, adolescence, aging and the sacrifices people make for those they love. Stride’s Summer is full of the intensity and hardship of an Australian summer. Recommended for upper-primary and lower-secondary readers.
Stride’s Summer, by Jenni Overend
Allen & Unwin 2007
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Other books by Jenni Overend include:
Hello Baby, ill Julie Vivas