We lifted the square of carpet, and there it was. A solid iron trapdoor. With a lock. An ornate, old-fashioned lock that would fit an ornate, old-fashioned iron key perfectly. I’d seen enough NCIS to know that two missing parents and one locked trapdoor is a combination for great TV but not so great in real life.
Dodie has a lot on her plate. It’s the last week of school, and final exams are looming. So, when her parents don’t come home she takes a little while to figure out they’re missing. Then a boy from her class who she barely knows tells her to trust him, and from there things get more and more weird. Her parents, it turns out, have been hiding a massive secret – a secret that people are prepared to kill for. Soon Dodie finds herself on a road trip – driving an odd assortment of people, including one who’s dead, from Melbourne to Sydney. Chased by bad guys and the police, and never sure who they can trust, Dodie and her new friends get to know themselves, each other, and a lot about life.
The Reluctant Hallelujah takes quirky to a whole new level, with a twist, revealed in the basement early in the book, which will leave some readers uncomfortable and others laughing out loud. As the story continues there are romantic, bizarre and sad turns aplenty, keeping the reader guessing right to the end.
There’s much to like here, though a word of caution that there are some elements of the content which may prove controversial in some school settings – though it’s not possible to elaborate on these here without spoiling the plot. Those who are offended may be over thinking things a little, in a book which is, in the end, an absorbing read.
The Reluctant Hallelujah, by Gabrielle Williams
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