The January Stars


Publication Date: 31 Mar. 2020
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781760525026

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    When 12-year-old Clancy and her 14-year-old sister, Tash, visit their Pa at his aged-care facility, they have no idea that the three of them will soon set out on an intrepid adventure.

    Along the way there are many challenges for Tash and Clancy to overcome and in the process, they discover their own resourcefulness and resilience and demonstrate their heartfelt love for their grandfather.

    Information

    Book Type: Junior High
    Age Group: 9 to 13 years
    Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5
    Literary Rating: 4.5/5

    Review

    Quiet, shy Clancy has one passion in life: the stars. Everything else scares her -- entropy, ordering at restaurants, answering the phone, and the idea of starting high school in a few weeks.

    Her parents have to leave her and her older sister Tasha with their Aunt Polly for a few days while they travel to New Zealand to get their Uncle Mark out of legal trouble. Clancy's not happy, but it's bearable until Polly decides to go ahead with her plans to go to Sydney, leaving Tasha and Clancy on their own. Things spin even further out of control when they visit their grandfather in the nursing home, and a split-second decision to prop the door open for a cat leaves many of the residents roaming outside.

    In a fury at being blamed, Tasha takes their grandfather with them, and the three end up on the run. Their grandfather, who has aphasia and can only use the right side of his body since his stroke, is wheelchair-bound. Polly's house isn't wheelchair accessible, so they get the idea to visit Pa's old house in Rosella, which is deserted as it's been put up for sale. They find spare keys and a box of cash savings, and Clancy smells her grandmother's perfume; she imagines that the spirit of their grandmother is guiding them, showing them where to go.

    Things grow even more chaotic the next morning, when the real estate agent shows up and calls the police on them. Tasha decides that they can't go home because they're on the run, and they can't take Pa back to the retirement home because he hates it, so their best bet is to find their Aunt Beatrice. On the way, they find a shop owned by one of Pa's oldest friends, and after they leave it seems to disappear -- Clancy becomes convinced that they time-travelled or were speaking to a ghost.

    They find their way to Bee's place, but she's sublet it out to a stranger, Alex; in exchange for some help cleaning up the messy apartment, they get Beatrice's new address, a small town called Quoll Creek. After catching a train there and walking for hours, they find that the place Bee now lives is an ashram, and she can't take care of Pa. They ask for help from a boy called Toby who they met on the way and hitch a lift to their Aunt Pip's place on the coast -- but Pip's pregnant and can't take Pa either!

    Pa begins to sicken as he hasn't been taking his medication, so Tasha, Clancy, Pa, Pip, and Toby climb into a car and drive back to the house in Rosella, where Polly is waiting with Tasha and Clancy's parents. After some discussion, they realise that Pa's isolation from his family is hurting him, and they could all do with spending more time together.

    Tasha, Clancy, their parents and their little brother move into the place in Rosella, and Pa comes to stay on the weekends. Clancy's sure that this is exactly as her grandmother had planned it, and after all her adventures, she's a lot less afraid of the wide world.

    A funny, quirky tale about the importance of family and love. The relationship with Tasha and Clancy is characterised by classic sibling bickering, but also by bone-deep trust and love. Pa, despite his inability to speak, has a larger-than-life personality that jumps off the page. A family drama full of whacky hijinks and twists and turns.

    Themes

    family, illness, disability, old age, siblings, trust, adventure, small towns

    Content Notes

    1. Clancy believes that the ghost of her grandmother is sending her signs. Once particular incident leads her to believe that she's either time travelled or communicated with a ghost. These fantasy elements are benign. 2. Clancy has a crush on Toby, but he's older and it is unrequited.

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