Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[Review] Alaska by Sue Saliba

Title: Alaska {goodreads}
Author: Sue Saliba
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 27/06/11
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 14+
Pages: 180
My Rating:

mia's heart made a sound that no one heard
except for mia
late one night when she woke from dreams into darkness.
ethan was asleep beside her, and em was a forest away.
outside it was night and dark and alaska.the sky was upside down.

When Mia follows her sister halfway across the world to Alaska, she discovers that love can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful of places. But can Mia find the courage to follow her heart in Alaska? And what if the one you love is not all that you wish them to be?
My thoughts: 

The first thing someone should notice when looking at this book is, "Wow! What a cover!" Really, just look at it in person. There is a subtle shininess in the bronze colouring. There is such attention to detail that it's one of those books that I could just stare at for minutes on end. And the barcode at the back is integrated in the cover image, which is really neat and blends in astonishingly well. Also, the cover features three animals - a deer, an owl and a wolf. They're all actually siginificant to the plot, which I found a nice surprise.

In ALASKA, 18 year old Mia has followed her older sister from the now-hopeless Melbourne to Alaska. Em has her own family now, and Mia feels as though she's been left in the dust. But then she finds love, and it's more real and frightening than anything she's ever experienced before. Trouble is ahead, when a certain project threatens the life she's wanted more than anything to have -- quoted, "a passionate story of love, family and the power of the natural world."

I loved how atmospheric the prose was - it leaps and bounds, free from the restraints of capital letters and rules. There is also this quiet intensity about it that invites you into Mia's world, into Alaska. The very setting of the book makes it a great winter read, a clever decision on Penguin's part to release it right on the cusp of winter.

Saliba's characters were surprisingly well-written given the length of the book. There was potential for a detachment with the main character, Mia, due to the third person narration. But Saliba wrote with her voice and thoughts in mind, and it was as almost as though she were in fact telling the story. I found Em, Mia's sister, a bit perplexing. Her behaviours towards their mum and Mia, and her 'new family': Terrence and Christian, show the complexities in relationships and what family can mean to one person as opposed to another. I loved the way Saliba delves into this topic, especially because family tends to take a spot behind romances, and that was so not the case, at least for me.

Ethan remains mysterious for the majority of the book. I kept shifting my opinion towards him, and even after finishing the book I'm not sure just HOW I'm supposed to think of him.

ALASKA is a prime example in exploration of the intricacies in regards to family, love, home and belonging. Its quiet prose both captivates and vividly illustrates the atmosphere that would be expected of the place of Alaska. The characters, beautifully developed and realistically portrayed - nothing is absolute in a person and perceptions change. I have no doubt that Sue Saliba's deftly crafted book has the power to inspire young adults to find themselves in their own Alaska.


First lines:

"mia's heart made a sound that no one heard
except for mia
late one night when she wrote from dreams into darkness."

Favourite quotes:

"mia looked out at the road as they drew closer to em's house. the trees were almost sticks. winter was approaching. change was relentless."
(p. 82)

"if only it would scream loud enough, if only it would not fade. she opened the door to em's house and the silence frightened her. nothing to be afraid of, she thought. she remembered the forest and then she thought again: yes, there was much to br frightened about. there was also something to be joyful and courageous and strong and hopeful about. yes, it wasm't one or the other - it was both and all of these things. dark and light mixed together."
(p. 97)


Live in Australia?
Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository


Author Site
Q & A with author at Between the Lines
Interview at 'Where the writer comes to write'

Other reviews
inkcrush | The Book Gryffin | Skye


I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: Aussie YA Challenge

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