Marion Day’s first young adult novel, Whakaari, is set in a small town in the eastern Bay of Plenty. Many readers will be challenged and moved by Roa’s poignant story, in which she uses the volcano as a metaphor for her own life.
KKB note: For readers aged 14+ with parental guidance. Topics include domestic violence, murder, stillbirth and self-harm.
NZ Booklovers ~ Roa is a troubled teen. From a small town and with too many dads, she lives near Whakaari White Island which is both beautiful and dangerous.
Roa is being crushed by the weight of two secrets. The men her mother has brought into their lives have damaged her. Although her mother is aware of this, she has no idea that Roa is a criminal.
Whakaari never leaves Roa. She hangs out with her street gang and compares the volcano to her own feelings. A botched robbery, a rash encounter with a boy. Can she escape the ruins?
The story seemed a little disjointed to start with, bouncing the reader from present to past, between Roa and her mum Huia. I initially found it hard to feel anything for Roa, and struggled to engage with the story and how Whakaari played a meaningful part in the metaphor of Roa’s life.
I put Whakaari aside for a few days before picking it back up. I’m glad I did. Once I relaxed and went with the story, author Marion Day had me awake until the early hours devouring the book to see what became of Roa.
It’s an intense read – domestic violence, murder, stillbirth, and self-harm are just some of the heartbreaking realities that Roa must grapple with. Without spoiling the plot, Day moved me to tears with certain aspects of the story. While there is deep darkness, she infuses the story with hope and light, with family and with heart.
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Meet the Kiwi author
Find out more about Marlborough Sounds author Marion Day on her author page.