The Stars at Oktober Bend

Glenda Millard

The Stars at Oktober Bend
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The Stars at Oktober Bend

Glenda Millard

A powerful, captivating story about Alice, who is reaching out to express herself through her beautiful-broken words, and Manny who is running to escape his past. When they meet they find the tender beginnings of love and healing.

Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can’t say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town. Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars.

Review

I’m sad to admit it but I had never read Glenda Millard before The Stars at Oktober Bend and I can say I will be quickly rectifying this.

Alice has been through a truly awful assault but luckily she has come out of it alive. However, the assault left her with acquired brain damage and she now has to deal with the aftermath. The people in her town call her names and make out that the assault was her fault, so Alice stops going to school and starts to withdraw into herself. But when Alice meets Manny, an ex-child soldier who has seen things that no child should ever see, she finally lets someone get close to her.

Glenda Millard is a beautiful writer. Her stories are very visual and while often I’m not a huge fan of teens writing poetry in novels, Alice’s poetry is very touching. While sad, The Stars at Oktober Bend is also uplifting as Alice and Manny’s developing relationship is lovely to read about and brings hope.

Ages 13 and up.


Katherine Dretzke is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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