My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The fact that AFL is a major character in the book really helped. The fact that I read it around the 1 year anniversary of losing my Dad in a car accident really helped too. It was a case of the right book at the right time for me.
Shelley and her Dad are living the lives of ghosts following the death of her mother and brother in a car accident two years ago. Still caught in their grief, they are in limbo – feeling guilty if they are happy about anything. Josh, Shelley’s childhood friend and her brother’s best mate, is always in the background offering support to Shelley which makes her uncomfortable, but she can’t pinpoint why and neither can we – yet.
Shelley starts at a local Catholic school on a scholarship halfway through Year 10 and hopes it is a new beginning, a chance to “draw a line between one day and the next”. There she meets Tara, a football tragic like herself, and Shelley is drawn into the world of the fanatic Glenthorn supporters who attend training, and everything else they can wangle their way into. Mick (Eddie) the new recruit from WA befriends Shelley and she is thrilled. Slowly Shelley’s life feels like it is taking a turn for the better. However, as the football soaked part of her life takes off, Shelley finds her family, and her new friend Tara, don’t understand it. Tara withrdraws from her, her father bans her from going to training and Josh can’t understand why Shelley is happy to go to the Glenthorn games, but not his own Raiders games (where she and her brother also played).
This is a gentle book, which encourages you to stick with Shelley, even though she sometimes is VERY naive and more than a bit frustrating. I will not post spoilers, but there are revelations in the last third of the book that helped to make sense of it all and I was very satisfied with the ending – feeling quite happy and uplifted. Definitely recommended for anyone over the age of 12.