Between by Adele Broadbent
There’s a strange old lady in Olly’s town, who is often spotted pushing a shopping trolley around. He and his friends often tease here and dare each other to run up her driveway and stand on her porch. The sign outside her house says, ‘Martha Michefski, Spiritualist, By Appointment Only’, which just intrigues Olly more. He loves anything to do with ghosts – maybe because he can’t remember his dad, who died before Olly was born.
Olly’s problem is his Aunt is on his case, forever telling him to keep away from Martha, and bullying his mum into punishing him for hanging around her. Even when he inadvertently ends up in the same shopping centre as Martha. It’s now fair. It also makes Olly even more curious...and then he meets Martha.
So is the premise of Between, written by New Zealand bookseller and author Adele Broadbent.
Best suited for intermediate-aged readers, Between had me hooked from the beginning. The characters are all well-rounded and believable. Olly and his friends have a wonderful, relatable dynamic, and it is clear Broadbent is the mother of sons herself. The three boys were fun, mischievous and easily imaginable. The boy-girl relationships were not saccharine sweet or cringe-worthy. Again, Broadbent has a good insight into the target age and it was instantly relatable and believable.
There were parts that were frustrating as a reader and parent. At points, Olly’s Mum was infuriating. She set rules but never gave Olly a reason for them, and totally over-reacted when he broke them. However, reading it as a parent might have clouded my judgement on that point.
While the book isn’t fast-paced, the action unfolds in a steady stream which had me turning the pages until the book was finished in one sitting. The ending was a little unexpected which was a nice surprise.
It is an easy read for independent readers. However, it would also make for a lovely read-aloud with relatively short chapters allowing the book to unfold over consecutive bedtime readings. Families with particular beliefs or sensitivities around death or the paranormal may like to read it with their child, purely for the conversations it could spark afterwards.
Between is another solid story from Broadbent, whose love of literature is evident through her story.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
OneTree House, RRP $20