Crashing Down, by Kate McCaffrey

She’s sitting under a tree, knees pulled up to her chest, waiting for her mum. All she can imagine is Carl and JD in the car. She cringes and tries to make the images disappear, but they won’t. She imagines Carl and JD in hospital beds. A broken neck – that doesn’t necessarily mean paralysis; she’s sure she’s heard of people who have broken their necks and totally recovered. And what’s a coma anyway – isn’t that just sleeping? Don’t people usually wake after a little while?

The end of year 12 is drawing close, and Lucy can sense change coming. It’s time to knuckle down and study hard, to make sure she does well. She has plans for after school, too. Perhaps she doesn’t need to be a serious relationship with Carl, especially when he seems to smother her – except for the night of the formal when he ignores her. Breaking up with someone can be difficult, but for Lucy, it’s very very complicated.

Crashing Down is a gripping tale of consequences, life choices and growing up the hard way. Like any seventeen year old school leaver, Lucy has hopes and dreams, but she also has some pretty hefty decisions to make, and after her boyfriend is injured in a car accident, and she realises she is pregnant, those decisions are pretty weighty.

McCaffrey doesn’t shy away from putting her characters in difficult situations, and Lucy’s situation is one which would challenge any teen – or adult. But the chain of events which follows is both plausible and thought provoking.

Suitable for older teens.

Crashing Down, by Kate McCaffrey
Fremantle Press, 2014
ISBN 9781922089854

Available from good bookstores or online.

Mama's Song, by Ben Beaton

At 4.00 a.m. she screamed.
A harsh piercing noise. I thought everything in the room would shatter.
At 4 a.m. she screamed because she wanted to live.
I cried.
At 4 a.m. I cried because I didn’t know if I wanted her to.

George (Georgina) is running away from her family, her friends and her mistakes. But one thing she cannot run from is the fact that she is about to become a mother. In a country hospital, away from everyone she knows, George gives birth to a baby girl. In the days that follow she must grow from being a troubled teen to being a mother to Hannah, her baby.

It isn’t an easy transition, but Hannah makes new friends in the hospital – including other first time mothers. There is Mary who, at 38, has relied on IVF to have her baby, and Nasreen, whose baby has come early – too early. George learns from and shares with these women, but she also learns from herself, as she reflects on the events which led her to this time and place, with a new perspective.

Mama’s Song is an amazing young adult novel – amazing for its intensity, and for its accurate portrayal of the turmoil new mothers (of any age) can face. However, teens do not need to be young mothers themselves to be able to relate to George’s story, being offered a wonderful insight into her life both previous to her pregnancy and now.

This debut novel for Perth author Ben Beaton hints at a stellar career to come.

Mama's Song

Mama’s Song, by Ben Beaton
black dog, 2009

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