Here are the Library Team’s Top 5 Recommendations
The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes
It’s almost impossible to imagine one of our year 8 or 9 students rushing to enlist to fight in a war on the other side of the world. And it beggars belief that their parents would allow them to do so. But that’s exactly what young Leslie Shaw did at age 13 years, eight months and six days old. He was the youngest known ANZAC – all with his father’s approval.
In the First World War thousands of Australian and New Zealand boys lied about their ages, forged a parent’s signature and went off to fight in the war they knew little about. They soon discovered they could die as well as any man. Like Peter Pan’s lost boys, they have remained forever young.
This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of 40 Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. Featuring haunting images of the boys taken at training camps and behind the lines, these tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and luck.
Library Call Number: 940.4 BYR
Torched by Kimberley Starr
“If my son killed anyone, I’d know. I know him.”
A small Victorian town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School Principal, Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of eighteen-year-old Caleb who is accused of starting the fire that killed twelve people – students from her school among them. Where was her son on that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.
Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?
Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save her son.
Library Call Number: CRI F STAR
Ambon by Roger Maynard
This reviewer has a personal connection to the incredible story of the Australian prisoners of war on Ambon Island during WW2. I interviewed one of the survivors, Albert Jones of 2nd/21st Battalion for my HSC History Assignment. We became friends, and shared stories, laughter and tears for the next 17 years until Bert’s death.
His stories were vivid, often brutal, incredibly sad, but sometimes mischievous and hilarious. These stories are reflected in the book, Ambon.
In February 1942 the Indonesian island of Ambon fell to the advancing Japanese army. Among the captured Allied forces was a unit of 1150 Australian soldiers known as Gull Force, who had been sent to defend the island – a strategy doomed from the very beginning.
Soon after the invasion, several hundred Australians were massacred in cold blood. But that was only the start of a catalogue of horrors for the men who survived: incarcerated, beaten and often tortured by their captors, the brutality they endured lasted for the next three and a half years. And in this hellhole, officers and men turned against each other as discipline and morale broke down. The prisoners on Ambon were subjected to some of the most brutal treatment experienced by POWs anywhere during World War II. Over three-quarters of the Australian prisoners there died in captivity.
Yet the epic struggle also produced heroic acts of kindness and bravery. Just over 300 of these men lived to tell of those grim days behind the barbed wire. In Ambon, survivors speak of not just the horrors, but of the courage, endurance and mateship that helped them survive.
Library Call Number: 940.547 MAY
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman
If you watched the Netflix four part series of the same name, Unorthodox the book will provide a very different experience and narrative.
The book, published in 2012, caused anger within the insular Hasidic community and left the author, Deborah Feldman estranged from the rest of her family.
The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. In this memoir, Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious tradition that seems to value silence and suffering over individual freedoms.
The child of a mentally disabled father and a mother who abandoned the community while her daughter was a toddler, Feldman was raised by her strictly religious grandparents. Along with a rotating cast of aunts and uncles, they enforced customs with a relentless emphasis on rules that governed everything from what Deborah could wear and to whom she could speak, to what she was allowed to read.
As she grew from an inquisitive little girl to an independent-minded young woman, stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. She had no idea how to seize this dream and escape.
It wasn’t until she had a child at nineteen that Deborah realized more than just her own future was at stake and that she would have to forge her own path to find happiness.
Library Call Number BIO 974.70 FEL
A Treacherous Country by Katherine Kruimink
“There is a woman, somewhere, here, in Van Diemen’s Land, unless she had died or otherwise departed, called Maryanne Maginn.”
Winner of the 2020 Vogel Award, A Treacherous Country tells the story of Gabriel Fox, the young son of an old English house, arrives in a land both ancient and new.
Drawn by the promise of his heart’s desire, and compelled to distance himself from pain at home, Gabriel begins his quest into Van Diemen’s Land.
His guide, a Cannibal who is not all he seems, leads him north where Gabriel might free himself of his distracting burden and seek the woman he must find. As Gabriel traverses this wild country, he uncovers new truths buried within his own memory.
Library Call Number: HIST F KRUI
If you’d like further recommendations, please come and see the Library staff.