Saturday, 24 March 2018


Lyla by Fleur Beale  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Fleur Beale is an exceptional writer and once again she gets into the head of a teenage girl. Lyla is thirteen, almost fourteen, when the Christchurch earthquake of February 22nd 2011 strikes. She’s in the city and a fog descends. “The white stuff in the air wasn’t fog, it was dust... So much dust. It swirled and lifted in great clouds.” She knows she has to get out. They all have an earthquake plan: go home. As she heads out of the city, she loses her friends, finds others she has to help, drawing on her ability to stay calm in a crisis - possibly having parents who are a police officer and a nurse might have helped. Once she’s home it’s not so easy. As the days go by, she feels helpless. Her mother is part of the emergency team in the city and her father, after not hearing from him for two days, is back at the hospital. Lyla is thirteen - too young for the student army, not allowed anywhere there is danger. Many of her friends have already left and her constant companion is her neighbour, Matt, a boy she really doesn’t have much time for. Yet Lyla and Matt find themselves working together to bring a sense of community back to their neighbourhood, to look after the younger children (the schools are closed and many of the adults are assisting with the crisis), helping their elderly neighbours and making friends as well as being actually quite helpful, in both practical and emotional ways, despite Lyla’s frustrations. However this is not merely a story about how communities come together, but a realistic account of the impact of the earthquake on Lyla - how trauma impacts you when you least expect it, and the anxiety that can’t be avoided when your whole world is tipped upside down and shaken (literally and figuratively). Lyla is part of the 'Through My Eyes: Natural Disaster Zones' series: the books enable children to understand the impact of a natural disaster and to empathise with a child in a crisis situation.

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