08 July, 2013

The 10 pm Question by Kate De Goldi [Zoë, Central City Library]

I love an occasional bite of tasty Young Adult fiction. And when I approach the genre, I have certain expectations. Not least among these is that something will happen - an element of plot will flag itself; there will be a mystery, an accident, or the threat of imminent action within the first couple of chapters. Evidently, I'm more used to reading genre YA than literary YA.

The 10 pm Question doesn't play along to standard YA conventions. It turns its back when you grumble at the chunky internal monologues. It puts its nose in the air and suggests you try a little Harry Potter as you grouch at the characters being so well filled-out they're just about fit to burst. This book takes a little patience to get into, but it rewards like a degustation at The French Cafe for your efforts.

The 10 pm Question certainly is character-driven, featuring a truly sympathetic depiction of an extremely anxious, intensely creative boy called Frankie, his so-odd-they're-normal family, and his two best friends. All the characters have their own demons to battle, especially Frankie's mum, who is horrifically agoraphobic, a disability that that has deep ramifications for Frankie's own sense of the world. The New Zealand setting is depicted with a refreshingly light touch, and the reader is left with a satisfying sense of obstacles faced and sometimes, overcome.

Best of all (and this is really just me being pedantic), the bird on the cover is not just there because it makes for an attractive book cover. It's actually significant to the story (!).

Title: The 10 pm Question
Author: Kate De Goldi
ISBN: 9781877460203 (pbk.)
Published: 2008
Publisher: Longacre Press

 - Zoë, Central City Library

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