Margaret Mahy was born in New Zealand and has loved telling stories all her life. She has published well over a hundred titles and won several major prizes and awards, including The Order of New Zealand, for her internationally-acclaimed contribution to children's literature. She has twice won the prestigious Carnegie Medal, (The Haunting, 1982, and The Changeover, 1984). Margaret lives in the South Island of New Zealand, in a house which she partially built herself, overlooking Governor's Bay.
Gr 7 Up Memorythe crucial center of our identities, its joy and pain, and the consequences of its dislocationis the theme of Mahy's latest novel. Nine teen-year-old Jonny Dart is both run ning away from the painful memory of his sister's death, and towards under standing his role in that death. In a mo ment of crisis he meets Sophie, an Alz heimer's victim in her 80s, and the two are drawn together. Both are trapped to some extent by their memories; both are outcasts living within a kaleido scopic vision of both past and present. Even the minor characters echo the hold of memory, and the setting is dom inated by a giant fake faucet that hangs on a sign overlooking the old lady's house. What a powerful image of the flow of memory! In caring for Sophie, including one memorable, funny, yet delicate scene where Jonny gently bathes her, readers see a process of re orientation and healing for the torment ed young man. Sophie's condition is de picted realistically as incurable, but readers' empathy and respect for the dignity that lies behind the mismatched clothing and wandering conversation will grow steadily chapter by chapter. Warmly recommended for its insight into a special relationship, vivid de scriptions and depth of character por trayal, this will be appreciated by thoughtful readers. Barbara Hutche son, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada
`Perceptive, amusing, never condescending.' Daily Telegraph
Sometimes Jonny, 19, feels that the memory of his sister Janine's death five years before will always be more real to him than anything in his own life. One night, he sets out on a drunken midnight search for Bonny, his sister's best friend. His quest leads him to his old neighborhood, where he meets Sophie West, an old woman. Sophie has Alzheimer's disease, and in her confusion believes that Jonny is the cousin she once loved. Jonny, in need of a place to spend the night, goes home with Sophie. The next day, Jonny's concern for Sophie keeps him from leaving her alone. While cleaning Sophie's cluttered house, Jonny discovers that she has been paying nearly daily ``rent'' to a local thug. Jonny must therefore stay with her in order to stop this extortion. Through his involvement in the old woman's life, Jonny finds the strength to settle old scores, vanquish long-hidden fears and revive his most secret hopes. While some readers may miss the cozy familial banter found in Mahy's earlier books, the well-thought-out characters and intricately structured plot are profoundly satisfying. Mahy's metaphors simultaneously further the plot and charm the reader. Ages 14-up. (April)