Between school, part-time work and caring for her paralysed father, seventeen year old Tara McCluskey barely has time to draw breath. She misses her sister Van who died five years earlier and all in all, life is pretty bleak. As an aspiring artist and passionate Vincent van Gogh aficionado, Tara is on the cusp of an exciting future, if she can only negotiate the way forward.
Powerful and uplifting, this is a contemporary New Zealand coming-of-age story that sensitively and insightfully examines issues around suicide.
We loved this, great discussion.
A confronting book, but essential reading for all ages. Well-written and well researched.
This book provoked two distinct reactions. Some readers found it cliched and more suitable for a 'young adult' readership.
This book stimulated a lot of discussio0n. We felt that a delicate issue was handled sensitively. The Irish history was woven through the second half of the book and added greatly to the reader's experience. The correspondence between Vincent and Theo added to the plot and was a clear parallel to the sister's experience.
This book was enjoyed by all members, including the 15 year old and the +70 year old! So a good, topical read for a varying demographic. A real conversation starter that had us all relating to the issues faced by those with depression and suicide.
This book was well received by the group. We felt the author dealt compassionately with the teenage suicide aspect of the story as she skilfully wove the subsequent events and consequences into a compelling read. A very believable tale which brought Vincent Van Gogh's art to life for those of us who wouldn't consider ourselves 'arty'.
Most felt it was a heavy handed morality tale, with many agreeing the story line was too contrived. The characters are likeable (excluding parents) and Hagers use of Van Gogh quotes is interesting. As a young adult novel we felt the ending too romantic for the seriousness of the topic and wondered if emphasis around professional help would have been equally as appropriate. Rape and suicide being our discussion, some experiencing these topics within family or friends, we agreed that hope, purpose and support rather than condemnation is far more appropriate in the healing process.
We all agreed Mandy Hager is a great writer. We were drawn into the story from the first page, and most continued to be enthralled by the story until the end, when some became irritated with Tara and found the romance too twee. We all felt this was a book better suited to the teen market than to us (as older women). We enjoyed it though and would be keen to read more by this author.
Most of us really enjoyed this book.
We all thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very well-written. We think all teenagers should read it!
A raw story. Ireland flavoured the story, which contrasted with the New Zealand setting. Each relationship was charged with strong characterisation, with some destructive behaviours evident. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter deserve a lot of thought - thoughts for living life. A brilliant book.
This was intelligently written, and we enjoyed reading it - now want to read more by this author. It was a very good portrayal of an Irish Catholic upbringing, also of artistic talent. Complex themes well handled, especially that of suicide. The book created good discussion.
We loved this book, it was a good way to end the year. It was interesting to note a teenager's perspective of the family dynamics. It was nice that it was sensitive to the topics presented, and most of them were addressed. We recommend this.
Thought provoking. Well researched and written. Generated good discussion.
It was a teen literature book set in NZ which was topical in that it threw up some interesting discussion on Suicide, we enjoyed this and very varied responses to the plot, characters and historical backdrop of the Irish Troubles.