As far as segues go, this is as artificial as they come. Nevertheless ….

Last book reviewed for GLM V was August by Christa Wolf – translated by Katy Derbyshire.  Then there was a meet the translator interview with Katy Derbyshire.  The two books reviewed in this post are translated by guess who? You got it!

imageThe fact that I am now closer to the great 6-0 than not, does not mean that I am banned from reading kid lit or even YA lit.  I might even enjoy it – in fact, I really enjoyed The Secret of the Water Knight, finding an unexpected connection with its heroine.

…Move your arms and legs like a frog, keep your head low …

I wave wildly  with everything I can move, but I still go under, swallowing a huge mouthful of saltwater.  I come up again, coughing and sinking straight underwater again. And again!

Now  because this is kid’s lit, Kat not only has a happy ending and learns open her eyes under water and swim in the great blue sea, but experiences a fantastic adventure in so doing.  Perhaps I would have done so, had I met a talking dolphin (the water knight), a villainous toad, and been chosen to save the world!  (As it is, reality has restricted me to swimming within my depth, eyes firmly shut. Treading water remains a mystery.)

Another skill that has passed me by is that of being a traceuse.  In fact, I’d never ever heard of it until I’d read This Brave Balance. Can I explain it? No. watch this instead.

Parkour is a key element in these pages.  There’s no skill more important to survival than balance when executing some of these moves.  So too, in surviving the emotional landscape of adolescence: the struggle with school grades, disillusionment with imperfect parents, ravages inflicted by absent parents, raging hormones, competitive peers, the need for oneupmanship … how can the transition from adolescence to adulthood to be negotiated?

imageDipper has very little joy in his life.  He only feels alive when he is with his pals practicing parkour. These bonds are what hold him together, Yet life has a way of impinging on the little enjoyment he has.  There’s the emotional mess involving the ex-girlfriend of his mate, Corone, and there’s an even bigger mess involving Corone’s sister – one which more experienced eyes would have picked up on much quicker (and, which to my eyes, was an unnecessary plot device.)

Still life has tough lessons for the inexperienced and Dipper and his mates are no exception.  Quite a gritty little book in places and an eye-opener, not just for the protagonists,

even if it didn’t leave me with a desire to learn parkour.  I’d still like to become a swimmer though. Actually I’d settle for being a competent water-treader.

© Lizzy’s Literary Life 2015

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