Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781782397526
Publisher:         Atlantic
Release Date:   February 2016  

Website:    http://www.allenandunwin.com 

 What a Way to Go 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       March 29, 2016

Author  Julia Forster

In 1988 Harper Richardson is twelve years old. Her Mum and Dad are divorced and she lives with her Mum. This is her story about how it feels to go back home with Dad every week and how regular friends change. Harper has to cope with being an only child with a working Mum, and puberty. This is her story and feelings about what goes on in her life.

 The story begins with Harper really wanting her Mum and Dad to get back together again but once she realises that is not going to happen, she plots to help her Mum find a new man.

 Harper and her Mum want to stay in the little house they have found as having moved house several times, Harper is desperate to stay put for a while. The problem is because Harper’s Mum is single, she isn’t allowed to have a mortgage and Harper’s Dad, while not unsympathetic, is as short of cash as the rest of the family, so no extra help there. Dad has joined a group called “The Lone Rangers”, which Harper describes as, “the kids are chucked together to have fun, while the adults get bitter about their exes.”

 In a very sincere twelve year old way, Harper describes situations which are quite humorous, but she sees as normal behaviour. Her Dad bulk buys food, with a low shelf life and is still eating baked beans a year after the use by date. “It’s because of the war”, Harper confides to her friend.

 There are so many challenges in this young girl’s life that it is amazing that she keeps so positive. Maybe it’s the scheming and plotting she does. For example, she places an ad in the lonely hearts column, for a man to meet her Mum. She and her friend intercept the man and explain that they want to check him out first if that’s OK?

 Being nearly thirteen is hard enough for a girl, but then puberty hits and her emotions are all over the place. Her Mum helps, but as they’ve taken in a boarder who is a friend of Harper’s Mum, things get busy. Then Kit, the boarder, discovers he has advanced lung cancer and declares he wants a home death. He brings home his coffin, so he can adjust to the idea.

 There is a great deal of humour, pathos and sadness in this story, but it reflects the way people cope under extreme pressure, and mostly they do it very well. As for Harper, things take a positive turn and her Mum marries at the last moment, bringing with it a positive change to their fortunes.

 This is a clever and authentic tale of one girl’s battle to understand the world of adults and their behaviour quickly, so that she may be able to make a difference.