"A mining town disaster plays out as young Jodi turns sixteen"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted May 3, 2015
Young Adult Contemporary | Gay / Lesbian Romance
Jodi lives in a small mining town. She marches to show
solidarity with the workers on May Day, but really it's to
make her feel more grown up - she's not sixteen yet. Then
there's a MAY DAY MINE collapse. The disaster overtakes
lives of everyone, with five men buried and rescue work
immediately beginning. How is a teen girl to lead a
Jodi has a father who is a miner despite his wife's asking
him to change job. Jodi's mum works in a beauty salon so
she could get work anywhere. She also has a brother, Jake,
and best pal Amy whose mum is the one telling the girls
the growing-up stuff that Jodi's mum is too embarrassed to
discuss. Jodi's not sure about a lot of things, including
whether she wants a boyfriend and babies. But she does
admire Finbar, a slightly older boy whose father is
down the mine. When he starts paying attention to her,
should she go along?
I liked the detail about the town experiencing this news
story as journalists come to observe and the newsagent
where Jodi works is selling out papers fast. The women of
the town cook up meals to bring to the journalists in the
makeshift media centre. Normal mealtimes are disrupted for
families as parents are at the mine or trying to cope with
other duties. The fact that miners had been asking for
better safety conditions for months before, makes the
accident even more tragic.
Family tensions rise and Jodi can't be blamed for wanting
break from the difficult atmosphere. But is sneaking off
another town in Finbar's car the right way to do it? This
is a clear-thinking young heroine, and despite her typical
young teen prevarication about whom she's seeing, I admire
the family communication which becomes established. It's
better not to get in the habit of lying.
I became completely engrossed in young Jodi's life and the
rescue efforts, as well as the life of the fictional town.
Verity Croker has a real gift for communicating a teen
girl's thoughts and emotions, which may help girls
wrestling with identity issues or in stressed family
situations. MAY DAY MINE closely reflects an actual mine
disaster in Tasmania where she lives. This fantastic young
adult book is gripping and deals with many growing-up
issues at one go.
Life in a small mining town can be like living in a
fishbowl, where everyone knows everybody else's business.
Fifteen-year-old Jodi's mother wants her father to quit
his binge drinking and his dangerous job at the mine—even
more so after a collapse leaves two miners dead and three
trapped deep underground.
As tensions escalate both at home and around the town,
Jodi seeks comfort with her friends but soon faces a
double betrayal. Meanwhile, her ten-year-old brother Jake
reacts by joining a gang of schoolyard bullies who engage
in increasingly dangerous antics.
As Jodi struggles to gain autonomy over her life, she
begins to discover the person she really is. But with
everything around her spiraling out of control, it may not
be the right time to let her family, friends, and
ultimately the whole town know—no matter how much she
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