Sunday Afternoon Read: "How To Stop a Heart From Beating" by Jackie Ballantyne

It can be most peculiar the way way that you trip upon an excellent book - How To Stop A Heart From Beating by Jackie Ballentyne is one of the options for novel study for the Yr 13 class at my practice school. It follows the world of Solange, a single child in the middle of two sets of twins and the imaginary and somewhat macabre world she creates for herself, dancing around the edges of secrets that she cannot fathom the depth of.

Set in South Otago, this book has a real New Zealand flavour but is none the worse for it. The rural background and era (1960s) give Solange, usually referred to as Solly, the freedom to roam around what she perceives as her world in a way that children of another time and place could never dream. Although the book is written from third person perspective, the narrative aligns itself with her state of mind. An example of this is Solly's mistake in hearing paupers' graves as porpoise graves - from then on they are referred to as porpoise graves, even though she has been corrected.

There is just the right mix of slice of life vs. mystery in this book and several moments that will make you want to hold your breath before the final denouement... what I love about the ending is that it is intelligent. It doesn't spell everything out for you, it just gives you the pieces of the puzzle to put together. I've only been able to find internet listings for these books in NZ and Australia but if you manage to see a copy you can get your hands on, it's definitely worth a read!

4 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good, i'll try and get my hands on a copy.