A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (Walker Books)
PB RRP $16.95
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Everyone is obedient to the words of the Mothers that direct their lives. All they know is the world inside the mountains created by Rockfall, a time when the mountains shifted and land was swallowed by water.
Jena leads the line of girls that have been physically ‘adjusted’ so their bodies are pliable enough to wriggle through the crevices of the rocks that form the periphery of their village. This is a place where females are more important and necessary than males, for these thin and pliable female bodies tunnel for the flakes of life-giving mica which keeps the population alive during the harsh winters.
Jena accidently discovers many truths hidden from them all. The Mothers have kept their dangerous secrets well. She learns about the ‘ripening’, enforced to manipulate the premature birth of babies. This guarantees the abnormally small stature necessary for the preservation of the line.
She also discovers that there is an Outside, and everyone has been lied to. Will the people believe her if she tells them the truth? Can she gather the courage to make her way through the mountain one last time?
This highly creative novel covers issues of gender, body image, the abuse of power by persons in positions of authority, and how easy it is to view people as disposable.
Written in scintillating prose filled with rich metaphors, this imaginative and well-crafted story is for the 12+ age group.