Second on my Carnegie reading list was Glenda Millard’s The stars at Oktober Bend.
Alice is a poet. She lives in a stilted house at Oktober Bend with her brother Joey and her Gram. Assaulted and left brain damaged, perpetually aged twelve, she writes her thoughts and hopes in the only way she can, leaving her poems on noticeboards to be discovered. Manny, desperately trying to forget his past in Sierra Leone, stumbles upon on of her poems. But what really happened to Alice three years ago?
In all honestly, it took me quite a while to get into this one. The lack of grammar and punctuation in Alice’s sections initially really jarred with me, but the more I learnt about Alice, the more I understood the need for her story to be told this way. (I felt the same about Sarah Crossan’s The weight of water but ended up loving it). Manny’s story was equally compelling and very sad. But what makes this book is the relationships. The story of Manny and Alice was very sweet, but it was the relationships with family- Joey and Louisa particularly- which felt most real . Despite my initial reservations I enjoyed the story.