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A Place Like This


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A special reissue of a bestselling Australian classic from award-winning author Steven Herrick

About the Author

Steven Herrick is one of Australia's most popular poets. He has published books of poetry for adults, young adults and younger readers. Love, ghosts and nose hair was shortlisted for the 1997 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. A Place Like This has been shortlisted for both the 1999 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. Over the past ten years Steven Herrick has performed his poems throughout Australia in schools, pubs, universities, festivals, rock venues and on radio and television. He has also toured Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore. He is one of Australia's most travelled and widely heard poets.


In Love, Ghosts & Facial Hair, the first of these two tender free-verse books, Jack, an aspiring writer growing up in western Australia, and his family finally cope with the death of his long-dead mother. In its sequel, Jack and girlfriend Annabel trade university for a road trip, ending up only "a few hundred kilometres down the road" working for an apple farmer and getting enmeshed in the farm family's hardships. Writing from multiple perspectives and with sentimentality tempered by humor, Australian author Herrick produces complicated characterizations and communicates warmth. In Love, Jack recounts a story his sister told him of his mother getting her cancer diagnosis ("that day was the middle of a heatwave/ but she shivered/ as she stepped from the surgery/ and saw Dad waiting in the car/ and both of us/ waving from the back seat./ she knew/ the doctor, the heatwave/ or this death/ couldn't touch her"). Off-topic poems in the first book, about a new teacher, or Annabel's poetry assignment, detract slightly, and Place may feel a bit saturated in problems (not only has the farmer's wife abandoned the family, but the oldest daughter is pregnant after a rape). On balance, however, poems about Jack and his dad trying to tear down an old playhouse in Love, or Emma making promises to her unborn child in Place ("and I touch my stomach/ and I whisper,/ `I won't ever leave you/ I won't ever...' ") provide lasting and believable images. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Gr 8 Up-Teenaged Jack thinks about sex (a lot), love, Annabel (sex again), nose hair, and his mother, who died of cancer and whose ghost haunts him. His memories-weekend trips with his father and sister, a photo of his mother, science class-are well drawn in first-person free verse. Most of the poems are narrated by the 16-year-old, with some selections by his father or sister. The switch is quick, without warning, and some readers might not realize that the voice has changed. By the end of the book, through numerous growth experiences and a burgeoning relationship with Annabel, Jack is ready to "tell the ghost no more visits/It's not that I don't need her/or want her to stay,/I'm just too old to believe in it anymore-." He's come to terms with the past, ready to face the uncertain future, stronger. In A Place Like This, also written in free verse, Jack, now 18, and Annabel have decided to put off going to university and set out on their own. They enjoy one another, sex, and their freedom. Life leads them to a job at an apple orchard, where Jack realizes, "This is not what I planned./I wanted lonely beaches with Annabel/and bush camping beside a river-." Instead, the two pick apples for 10 hours a day, sleep in a shed, and get entangled with their employer's pregnant daughter. Jack is drawn to help Emma because of a secret in his past. The story is tied up a bit quickly, and not entirely satisfactorily, but readers remain confident that Jack will survive wherever life takes him, and Annabel, next.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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