Stay Well Soon

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TANGEY, Penny Stay Well Soon UQP, 2013 234pp $14.95 pbk ISBN 9780702249945

Stevie is about eleven.  Her brother, Rhys, is ill, and Stevie and her single mother spend much of the time in the hospital with him as he to is diagnosed and treated.  In the hospital she meets Lara, who is fourteen, and they become friends, despite her mother’s concern that Stevie is too young to experience Lara’s situation.  Lara has cancer and expects to die.  This worries Stevie, who thinks that there is little point in doing anything if we are all going to die.  She struggles on at school, drawing horses, having arguments with her friends, then making up, helping Mum, and talking to Dad Ben on the telephone.  Things sort themselves out, but not before Stevie has to face up to her own mortality and learn that life goes on after tragedy.  Tangey captures the voice of Stevie: what it is like to be in a classroom, how a child’s friendship circle fluctuates, and the ups and downs of life.  The novel is written as though it was for a primary school child, and although the plot touches on death and its ramifications, the subject is handled with sensitivity and reassurance.  SL

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