REVIEW: #AusYABloggers Blog Tour, 'The Year The Maps Changed' by Danielle Binks
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
I recently had the absolutely wonderful opportunity to participate in the #AusYABloggers tour for ‘The Year The Maps Changed’ by Danielle Binks. It was something I had been wanting to read for a while and it did not disappoint!
I was eleven when everything started and twelve by the end. But that’s another way maps lie, because it felt like the distance travelled was a whole lot further than that.’
Sorrento, Victoria – 1999
Fred’s family is a mess. Fred’s mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop is at the Rye Rehabilitation Centre recovering from a fall; Luca’s girlfriend, Anika, has moved in; and Fred’s just found out that Anika and Luca are having a baby of their own. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.
But even as the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, a crisis from the other side of it comes crashing in. When 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to be housed at one of Australia’s ‘safe havens’ on an isolated headland not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family, as she navigates one extraordinary year that will change them all.
In the past, I have probably been a little biased towards middle grade books. I supposed I assumed I was too old for them and that I wouldn’t gain much from them. Here, that just wasn’t the case. In fact, I would argue that everyone has something to gain from reading this book.
The thing I loved most about this novel was the authenticity of the characters. Nobody was completely good or bad all of the time, but the characters were still just as loveable. I absolutely adored Fred and her family. I think Fred makes the perfect protagonist for a book like this, or any middle grade novel, really. She’s at that age when you’re learning so much at once but there’s still so much to learn. She reminds me of myself when I was in year 6 but I’d argue that she’s far less embarrassing. Her family reflects a different kind of ‘blendedness’ that I think would resonate with a lot of young people.
Fred also has a really wonderful friendship group which is something I consider to be quite relatable for young people. The characters, I felt, interacted just as real preteens would. They were quite mature but I think people forget just how mature some kids are. And they still are kids. They rode their bikes and discussed lip smacker but they were still in the midst of a very real issue happening essentially next door.
The story of the refugees was also really beautiful. and incredibly important. I love how involved Fred became in their lives but I also appreciate how the author wrote about a friend of Fred’s whose father disagreed with the arrival of the refugees but he learnt that it was okay for him to have opposing opinions to his dad.
The book was so much more emotional than I anticipated it would be. It is a book of sadness, anger, family and friendship. I think it is primarily a book of hope.
Overall, this book was the book that changed changed my perception of Middle Grade books. I really loved it. I’m rating it a 4.4/5.
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