Book review: Touchstone, by Lorraine Orman

Available as an e-book per information below

Lorraine Orman’s books for teen readers often tacklecv_touchstone contemporary issues and I guess some would say they carry “messages”. Whether books for teenagers and young adults should or should not carry messages is a matter of taste and preference, which I am shelving for now. Touchstone, Orman’s latest book, touches on the sensitive issue of mining  – the setting is the west coast of New Zealand and a young city teenager, finds herself in the middle of the furore as a battle between protesters and miners comes to a potential head.

What interests me the most about the book is the juxtaposition of the young people and their elderly and dying relative. It is the latter’s imminent end of life that brings the two young people at the centre of this story together for the first time. The shift, in just two generations, from a family that was entirely dependent upon the mines for their marginal existence to a family that now thinks their entire existence is dependent upon the cessation of mining is clever. And despite decades passing, the teenagers apply the same degree of fortitude towards fighting the mines as their ancestors applied to simply surviving from them.

Both generations also hold family secrets, the first of which is revealed in the prologue. The second, remarkably of a similar ilk, is revealed nearly three-quarters of the way through, although it becomes evident much earlier. I must say that I found the prologue a little unnecessary, and more than that it made me question whether I wanted to read the book at all. I’m not sure why that was, but it might be that the writing style is markedly different – in keeping with and appropriate to the shift in time. It is the only part of the book that is historically set and the narrative reflects this.  But this is a minor gripe, but I do think younger readers who shy away from historical fiction will need to get past this.

Overall, this is a book for thinking readers – it’s not going to appeal to the fast-moving, gadget-filled, action-packed fiction readers, but Touchstone will find its place in the market. And those young adults who do read it, and reflect upon the implications, will benefit.

Reviewed by Gillian Torckler

Touchstone 
by Lorraine OrmanPublished as an e-book by Ashmore Books
ISBN 9780473239725 (epub)
ISBN 9780473239732 (Kindle)
ISBN 9780473239763 (iBook)

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