Aug 27

Review: Don’t Breathe a Word by Marianne Musgrove

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Don’t Breathe a Word by Marianne MusgroveDon't Breathe a Word by Marianne MusgroveCheryl Orsini
Published by Random House Australia on 2009
Genres: fiction, junior fiction
Pages: 137
Source: ARC received from publisher
Buy on Amazon

Award-winning author Marianne Musgrove brings her light touch to a story of family, growing up and keeping secrets that is nailbiting and heartwarming in equal measure. 'I, Mackenzie Elizabeth Carew, do solemnly swear never to communicate anything about what happened tonight.' That's what I promised my sister Tahlia, and I've tried my best to keep that promise. It's hard, though. Grandpa is acting so strangely since his accident. I'm sure Mrs B. suspects something, and Mahesh must think I'm weird for avoiding him. My best friend Annie is too busy hanging out with Regan and Tegan to notice. But someone will find out if we're not super careful. It's lucky Tahlia has a plan . . .

I thought that this novel by Marianne Musgrove dealt with the issue of dementia in a very thoughtful way. As with Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, I was impressed at how the author was able to do this while still offering readers an entertaining story.

I particularly liked that Tahlia’s struggles to conceal her grandfather’s failing mental health weren’t dealt with in isolation. She was also dealing with the stress of changing friendships as she moved towards high school, disagreements with her sister and step-sister, and overdue school assignments.

It seems odd to refer to a novel where the central characters are going through such emotional upheaval as enjoyable, but Don’t Breathe a Word really was an entertaining book with an element of humour underlying much of the story. Tahlia and her friend Mahesh trying to sneak Tahlia’s grandfather back home in a shopping trolley was just one of several great scenes.

Raising issues such as dementia and other serious illnesses with children can be difficult. This novel offers a great starting point for discussions at home and at school. There are teaching notes available for Don’t Breathe a Word through Marianne Musgrove’s website.

Marianne Musgrove is a South Australian author whose previous books include the award winning The Worry Tree and Lucy the Good.

Recommended for readers aged 9+ years.

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