Nova Weetman, Sick Bay, University of Queensland Press, June 2019, 280 pp., RRP $16.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780702260322
Having met in sick bay, Riley and Meg are intrigued by each other and little by little, as circumstances contrive to bring them together, become friends. Twelve year old Riley must choose between her popular group or the very unpopular Meg. There is a reason behind Meg’s odd behaviour. She appears to be a loner, wears slippers and the same ratty t-shirt to school each day, spouts bookish quotes and carries a paper bag. On the surface, Riley appears cool and confident, hanging out with the popular girls and being noticed by the boys. Both girls are hiding secrets that unfold as the end of the year and graduation night looms.
This touching, heartfelt novel reminds us that there is no ‘normal’ and that to find true friendship, we must first be true to ourselves. The use of dual narrative is totally engaging, enabling us to empathise with both characters who each have their own authentic voice. An uplifting, multi layered story that will resonate with readers and stay with them long after the last page is read.
Highly recommended for middle, upper primary and lower secondary readers.
Reviewed by Sharon Seymour