Book Reviews: A Very Nice Girl; Amorangi and Millie’s time travel

Amorangi and Millie's Journey Through Time by Lauren Keenan.  Huia Publishers.


Amorangi and Millie’s Journey Through Time by Lauren Keenan. Huia Publishers.

Amorangi and Millie’s time travel, by Lauren Keenan. Huia Publishers. (recommended price $26)

REVIEW: Pōneke-based publisher Huia has once again knocked it out of the park with a new novel for tweens. Author Lauren Keenan (Te Āti Awa ki Taranaki) holds a master’s degree in history and has previously published a memoir (The 52 week projectAllen & Unwin).

Amorangi and Millie’s time travel is a joyful, funny and illuminating novel about two siblings who must travel through time to find their mother who has slipped away somewhere in the past. It’s a great premise. Amorangi and Millie travel back and forward in time, meeting their ancestors and learning about the history of where they live: the Taranaki eruption, the Parihaka invasion, the Musket Wars and more.

As with most children’s novels published by Huia, this novel is not kidding; it’s action-packed and constantly on the move, making it a great choice for reluctant readers aged around eight to 12.

Reviewed by Jane Arthur

* New children’s fiction tells the story of Taranaki through time-traveling youths
* Author Taranaki’s new book a love letter to life on the family farm
* The 52 Weeks Project: A Wellington woman did one new thing a week for a year

A very nice girl, by Imogen Crimp. Bloomsbury. (recommended price $33)

A Very Pretty Girl, by Imogen Crimp.  Bloomsbury.


A Very Pretty Girl, by Imogen Crimp. Bloomsbury.

The book takes its name and epigraph from Journey in the dark by Jean Rhys: “You can have a very pretty girl for five pounds, a very pretty girl indeed; you can even get a really nice girl for nothing if you know how to go about it.

It’s a clever read on the theme: A young woman with a bright future finds herself giving up all sense of agency — even self — to a relationship with a disappointing (and wealthy) man. So far, so real.

It’s a nuanced dissection of a relationship that’s a doomed power struggle for one and a matter of meaninglessness for the other — mirrored and amplified throughout by their outlook on money.

I don’t think I’ve read such a painfully accurate description of obsessive, destructive, one-sided love. I chipped away page after page only to come back and get beat up again. Sally Rooney fans will especially eat it.

Reviewed by Freya Daly Sadgrove

Both available at GOOD BOOKS2/16 Jessie St, Te Aro, Wellington

Alycia R. Lindley