BATES, Dianne A Game of Keeps Celapene Press, 2014 117pp $14.95 pbk ISBN 9780987367785 SCIS 1675018
Ashley’s Mum is a single parent who stays out all night having a good time. Her father gone, Ashley finds friends wherever she can in the block of flats where she lives. Aunty Green, elderly and ill, can no longer give the support she has in the past. Into this lonely life come surrogate grandparents (or aunty and uncle) Daisy and Will, who have plenty of time, a comfortable home, and a generous spirit to offer.
Mum’s boyfriend Eddie is a threatening presence in the story, but although violence looms, it never spirals out of control. The conflict between Eddie and Ashley’s mother reaches a crescendo, and he leaves. With the support of Daisy and Will, Ashley copes with the slowly revealed fact of her mother’s pregnancy.
The third person narration of this story provides a buffer between the reader and the emotional impact of the narrative. Although we have an insight into Ashley’s thoughts, we never feel the full force of emotional turbulence as she lives through difficult times. A sensitively-handled social issues chapter book for middle primary.
reviewed by Julie Thorndyke