Hugging The Rock
Susan Taylor Brown
from the book...
When Rachel's mum runs away from home, Rachel retreats into herself - away from the father who has always kept his distance, away from school, and away from her best friend. Rachel's mum used to say that her dad was a rock, the good kind you can always count on. But Rachel doesn't even know if he really loves her. And she doesn't know the secrets he's kept since before she was born. Slowly, Rachel grows close to her dad and comes to understand the truth of why her mum left.
This bittersweet story of loss and revelation explores the complex issue of bi-polar disorder and reveals the powerful bond between a father and a daughter.
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Verse novels are a powerful medium in exploring emotions and feelings using a minimum of words. Susan Taylor Brown utilises this to full effect in her novel Hugging The Rock. The story powerfully explores the effects of a mother leaving behind her husband and child, through the eyes of the child.
Rachel's mum leaves home one day saying I can't do it anymore. Why did she leave? Doesn't she love me? Did I do something wrong? are all questions going through Rachel's mind. Left only with her father, who seems like a rock, the two are left to cope on their own. Initially blaming her father, Rachel feels isolated and alone. Gradually, over time, the two communicate more and a closer bond emerges. Rachel slowly opens up, as does her father, and they come to realise that life continues and that they have each other.
This novel in verse effectively explores the relationship between a father and daughter during a time of great stress and discomfort. Susan Taylor Brown delivers a heartfelt and moving account and sensitively portrays all characters, including the mother who suffers from a bi-polar disorder. A sad but ultimately reassuring story told with compassion. Recommended for ages 11+
Bea, Adelaide, Australia