BOOK CLUB: When Only One

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When Only One by Meg Gatland-Veness is a powerful story of a group of teenagers dealing with a range of life issues. You know from the prologue that something terrible is about to happen and the mystery of who and what keeps you engrossed.

The story is set in a small NSW farming town in the late 1980s.

Seventeen-year-old Sam narrates the story. He tells it with humour but there are times when the situation is very sad.

The story starts 12 months prior. Sam shares his feelings honestly as he deals with relationships and the events that are unfolding.

Sam lives with his mum and dad and four brothers, and his parents are devout Catholics. Sam works as a lifeguard after school and is training for the Iron Man competition. He has some close mates and life is good.

Emily was Sam’s best friend from kindy. They had a falling out on his 12th birthday, but she has appeared back in his life now. Her life is in chaos. Her Mum has mental health issues and her father is an alcoholic.

A new girl, Rei, starts at the school and she’s from the rich side of town. Rei and Sam click and just like that he has met his first love.

Sam’s family and friends are really great and likable characters, you want the best for them. Unfortunately, that is not going to be the case.

The story deals with teen relationships and parent-teen relationships. Domestic violence, loss, grief and family trauma feature in this book. So does charity work and how to help in your community.

This story highlights who should be involved in helping kids who are doing it hard. Adults do need to be made aware and become involved if their children’s friends ever need support.

The book is “Young Adult  Fiction”. However, the story is a fantastic read for any age reader.

This is a book you can’t put down. I totally recommend it.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading When Only One by Meg Gatland-VenessYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

One thought on “BOOK CLUB: When Only One

  1. When Only One by Meg Gatland-Veness is set in a beachside country NSW town in the 1980’s.

    Seventeen -year- old Sam and his mates are in their final year of school, training for Ironman Championship glory and struggling with their homework. But underneath this seemingly outward normal they are grappling with far bigger issues. Interwoven with the maths and English homework the issues of child neglect, domestic violence, loss, grief, loyalty to friends, mental illness, parent child relationships, social justice, poverty, religion and alcoholism give this story twists and turns that leave you guessing until the end what has happened. Like a good essay the prologue and the final chapter cover the same event, but while you know from the start something bad happens, you don’t know until the final chapter who or why.

    The characters are well developed and really come alive. I can picture the teenage boys throwing seaweed at each other, the younger brothers being annoying, the tongue-tied boy asking a girl out for the first time, the feeling that they should do something to help their friends, but not knowing what or how.

    This book covers a range of social issues narrated from the point of view of a seventeen- year -old boy, making this a great book for teens to read to help them think about and process some of these issues without feeling lectured or preached at by adults. And, because it is a work of fiction with a gripping storyline it keeps your attention. I couldn’t put this one down. It has also left me thinking about how I would have reacted to the issues raised when I was 17 or how my own children would have reacted. Would I have reacted differently or the same as the characters? To me a good book is one that makes you think afterwards, and this one certainly has. 5 stars from me.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Pantera Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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