Ink by Alice Broadway
In Leora’s world, people wear their hearts on their sleeves – literally. Hers is a culture where each significant life event is commemorated with tattoos. Birthdays, new careers, and even heartbreak, adorn the skins of the marked, and make it clear what sort of life they’ve led. When a marked person passes away, the skin is taken from their body and turned into a book. Members of the community then judge the book, which is full of a life’s worth of body art. If they deem the book to be evidence of a full and wholesome life, it is taken home by the deceased’s family to be kept on the shelf with the rest of their ancestors. However, if the book shows evidence of any wrongdoing, it is incinerated, and all memory of that person is erased from history.
Leora is at a major changing point. She is about to leave school and take the exams that will decide what she’ll do for the rest of her life, and her beloved father has passed away. While she and her mother try to process his death, the government has cast doubt on whether or not his book is evidence enough of a worthy life. As she tries to piece together the mystery of her father’s life, Leora discovers long-forgotten secrets about him, and also about herself.
This is a wonderfully written book full of intrigue. One of my favourite aspects of the story is the way the author has effortlessly woven the mythology of this culture in with Leora’s journey to discover her own history.
Broadway has successfully imagined a world I wanted to learn absolutely everything about: I was left yearning for more. A great read for older teenagers who enjoy a novel with a touch of magic to it.