Release date: 2007 paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Target audience: 10+
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Stride’s Summer is a contemporary story set on the Australian coast. It is a touching story of loss, grief, family and friendship.
This novel opens as Stride is on his way to his father’s funeral. It follows Stride and his family as they come to terms with their grief. Stride’s mother shuts her children out as she struggles to cope with her loss. Stride is angry and they often argue over silly things like the chores around the house. Stride finds strength through his attachment to his late father’s cockatoo. Ferd is a great comfort to Stride and this book is in part about their growing relationship. Stride takes Ferd everywhere – for walks on the beach, for bike rides and even lets him sleep in his bedroom.
Stride meets a strange girl near the beach and he is unsettled by her and the way Ferd responds to her. Stride resents tourists who take over the beach which he has lived by his whole life. This story evokes the Australian setting wonderfully – the wildlife, the beach, the homes, the bush – the authenticity of the world was tangible.
There is a simple and gentle heart to this story. It is about Stride coming-of-age through his grief but also through his bravery. He has to find a way to become his own self and the man of the house. The book has a simple plot but it has a surprisingly fast pace with great action and it seems to race ahead. I think this novel will suit younger teens as it conveys the sadness of loss but also the comfort of friendship. There is no gritty edge but I’m sure there wasn’t meant to be. It is about a boy and his bird and their journey together to find a way forward after such a tragic loss. Stride’s Summer is a short, touching read.
Read for the Aussie YA Challenge 2011.