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The Stars at Oktober Bend
Cover of The Stars at Oktober Bend
The Stars at Oktober Bend
Beautiful, lyrical prose, told in two voices, lifts up a poignant story of two traumatized teens who find each other in a small riverside town. i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story...
Beautiful, lyrical prose, told in two voices, lifts up a poignant story of two traumatized teens who find each other in a small riverside town. i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story...
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Description-

  • Beautiful, lyrical prose, told in two voices, lifts up a poignant story of two traumatized teens who find each other in a small riverside town. i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story in the book of flying. i am alice. Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone. Something inside Alice is broken: she remembers words, but struggles to speak them. Still, Alice knows that words are for sharing, so she pins them to posters in tucked-away places: railway waiting rooms, fish-and-chips shops, quiet corners. Manny is sixteen, with a scar from shoulder to elbow. Something inside Manny is broken, too: he once was a child soldier, forced to do terrible, violent things. But in a new land with people who care for him, Manny explores the small town on foot. And in his pocket, he carries a poem he scooped up, a poem whose words he knows by heart. The relationship between Alice and Manny will be the beginning of love and healing. And for these two young souls, perhaps, that will be good enough.

About the Author-

  • Glenda Millard is an award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults, including the novel A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. She is also the author of the picture books Isabella's Garden, illustrated by Rebecca Cool, and Once a Shepherd, illustrated by Phil Lesnie. Glenda Millard lives in Australia.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 26, 2018
    Millard’s quiet, piercing novel, told in two voices, is full of brokenness—broken people, broken families—but also love. The predominant voice is 15-year-old Alice’s—in an arrested state of “twelveness,” having been brutally assaulted at that age and left with an acquired brain injury. Alice lives with her ailing grandmother; protective 14-year-old brother, Joey; and Bear the dog; the love among them all is fierce. The other voice belongs to 16-year-old Manny, a brutalized refugee from Sierra Leone, who has been taken in by a local couple. Alice makes beautiful fishing lures and writes anonymous poems, which she scatters about town, hoping a kindred spirit will find them. Manny is that kindred spirit, and, in spite of ugly opposition from some in the community, the two come together. Alice’s chapters are presented in all lower-case letters, and though this device is initially off-putting, it slowly draws readers into the singularity of her struggling yet strikingly poetic mind. Manny’s hair, for example, is “row-on-row of tight french knots,” and Alice’s grandmother “took my face in her hands and my heart by surprise.” The lyrical narrative’s unhurried pace demands careful attention as it builds to a dramatic climax and bittersweet ending. Ages 12–up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2018

    Gr 9 Up-Fifteen-year-old Alice does not communicate the way most girls her age do. Because of a physically and emotionally traumatic injury, she must find alternative ways to express herself. Writing bits of poetry is one of her outlets, and she covertly leaves her short verses on walls around town. Her protective brother, Joey, brings her to ballet class and teaches her blurbs of information to make up for her lack of formal schooling. As the two siblings care for their ailing grandmother in their broken-down home, they learn about the hardships of life and the importance of loyalty. When Alice meets Manny, a refugee and former child soldier, she finds solace in the connection they have. Things become complicated as she cautiously begins to trust him. Ultimately, Alice must decide if she can break out of her insulated world and allow hope to prevail. The author writes in an exploratory style, which, at first, might be off-putting and confusing. A few chapters into the story, however, the words and their unique flow become beautifully lyrical, displaying emotion and pain in a way that a linear story line does not always accomplish. Though teens may be hesitant at first, they will be rewarded with a compelling, moving portrait of characters who have been through tragedy and can see through to the other side. VERDICT A heartwarming story that is a worthy addition to high school libraries.-Karin Greenberg, Manhasset High School, NY

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2018
    Traumatized Alice and Manny find love and healing with each other.Alice Nightingale, age 15, was sexually assaulted at 12, a story which emerges in pieces over the course of the book. Due to resultant brain injury, Alice is stuck in "twelveness" though she questions the doctors' prognosis. Alice's thoughts are presented without capitalization and often as beautiful, fragmented poetry, giving her character a unique voice. The Nightingales are poor, but Alice is content with her faithful dog, caring for her ailing grandmother, and spending time with her loving brother, Joey. Endearing, sweet 16-year-old Manny James, the book's second voice, is a black immigrant from Sierra Leone who sees Alice ("her hair was red as fire and her skin was pale as bone") while running one night. Thus begins a disappointing pattern of fetishizing Alice's long hair and paleness. As a former child soldier, Manny has suffered trauma too painful to recall, just like Alice, and though they find solace and healing in each other, it seems unlikely that traumatized Alice could "shed [her] twelveness like a skin" by having sex. It's a shame that such lush writing and solid character development in a book that explores important themes like trauma, healing, bullying, and classism is marred by a tired trope and a random, rather unbelievable ending that includes Alice's seemingly sudden cure.A flawed but beautiful and tragic story of hope. (Fiction. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2018
    Grades 9-12 When she was 12, Alice was badly broken. Although she was sewn up on the outside, her words remained trapped on the inside. Now at 15, Alice finds a way to allow her words to sail free: she captures them on paper in tiny poetic creations and leaves them in unexpected places around town. This is how Manny, a former child soldier, discovers Alice. To the outside world, these are two damaged souls, but to each other, they are precious and whole. Millard relates their love story in a dreamlike, fractured style that emulates the schism between the tenderness of their relationship and the threats of the outside world. Alice's first-person narration is bereft of capital letters, which adds a sense of fragility and nicely contrasts with Manny's third-person perspective. An additional romance between Alice's brother and Tilda, a girl with dangerous connections, comes off a bit contrived; indeed, everything outside the core story feels tangential. Still, this is an original and gritty love story that will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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