All of Us Together by Bill Condon (About Kids Books) PB RRP $14.99
Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield
About Kids Books couldn’t have chosen a better story—or author—for its debut. All of Us Together is an emotional and informative time-travelling treat to 1930s Australia, as seen through the eyes of young Daniel O’Casey.
It is the time of the Great Depression and Daniel’s dad is out of work. While this may mean little more than the absence of a few extra treats to today’s kids, for those living in distant times it could literally mean the difference between life and death. When Daniel’s father leaves home on his bicycle to look for work, Daniel can’t even imagine that he will never see his beloved father again.
Life for the O’Casey’s becomes increasingly harder (despite Daniel’s misguided efforts to make a few shillings to help out). With family worries distracting him at school, it isn’t long before he feels the sting of Brother James’ cane; but nothing can dim his optimism and zeal for life for very long.
Life for Daniel and his sisters couldn’t be more different to the technological time of plenty that kids enjoy today. However, some things never change, and it is these core elements that readers will connect with: fear of losing a loved one, the importance of family and friendship, bullying, and backyard cricket to name a few.
Bill Condon has a rare ability to infuse characters with authenticity and vitality, which makes everything he writes impossible to put down. While initially I wasn’t particularly interested in reading a story about the Great Depression, I quickly became invested in Daniel’s family—so much so that I keep catching myself wondering how they’re getting on, as though they’re all out there somewhere. I defy anyone to tell me that isn’t magic.
Jenny Mounfield is the author of four novels, and several short stories for children. She lives in Brisbane with her husband, daughter, and a psychotic Jack Russell-cross named, Leo.