Book Review: Broken Play, by Nicholas Sheppard

Available at selected bookshops nationwide.

cv_broken_planAlec Haudepin is 23 years old and ever since he can remember he has dreamed of playing for the All Blacks. Alec has struggled with his sexuality for as long as he can remember, while growing up in rural New Zealand at a rugby-obsessed high school, but as he’s got older it’s been harder to deny. His life is complicated further by blame his parents have put on him when his brother Mark was killed in a farm bike accident, which led eventually to their separation.

When Alec is selected to play rugby for his province, his dream of being an All Black is so near. The one problem he has is his temper, which is fueled further by alcohol. He comes close to it blowing up in his face, so down on his drinking and managing his temper becomes a number one priority.

Alec lives in an apartment building at which a new arrival attracts his attention; Jackie and her troubled son Maxim.

In the era Alec participated in the sport, the male fraternity would not tolerate or contemplate that homosexuality could ever co-exist. Covering his frustration with alcohol just exacerbated the problem.

With the enlightenment that has come with time I am surprised to still not be aware of any openly gay rugby players playing for provincial or national rugby teams. I daresay – I hope – this is only a matter of time.

I found Broken Play a compelling read and wish to thank this first-time author Nicholas Sheppard for writing such a book.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Broken Play
by Nicholas Sheppard
Published by RSVP Publishing
ISBN 9780994140814

Book Review: The Falconer’s Daughter by N. K. Ashworth

Available in selected bookshops nationwide.cv_the_falconers_daughter

Fourteen-year-old Maddie Prescott is beginning to suspect that the medallion her mother
left to her possesses magical powers. It’s easy to believe considering the other curiosities Maddie has recently discovered; there’s the injured falcon she takes under her wing (if you’ll excuse the pun) and the Tower her mother built before Maddie was born. Most mysterious of all is the unfinished book trilogy that Maddie’s mother had written before the accident that killed her many years ago. The main character, Skyla Hawke, seems to have a lot in common with Maddie — perhaps too much in common for it to be a coincidence.

Maddie begins to read the incomplete book manuscript; meanwhile, she and her best friend Jess begin to investigate both the mystery of the medallion and the death of Maddie’s mother. Maddie’s father seems to be keeping secrets from her, and as the truth becomes clearer, Maddie begins to wonder if she really knew her mother at all. Gradually the line between fantasy and reality is blurred as the Skyla Hawke books start to closely resemble elements of Maddie’s life.

When Maddie discovers that two mysterious visitors to the Tower are in fact two of her own separate personalities, Lexie and Alex, it’s revealed that she has Dissociative Identity Disorder. DID is a mental disorder that is rarely referenced in YA literature at all; this book raises awareness about the disorder while careful not to turn the story into a lecture.

The Falconer’s Daughter is an imaginative story about falcons, magic and the slow process of beginning to heal. It’s a short but powerful read, perfect for the remainder of the school holidays.

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon, aged 16

The Falconer’s Daughter
by N. K. Ashworth
RSVP Publishing
ISBN 9780987658760