Sunday, 26 April 2020

Red Day


 Red Day by Sandy Fussell (Walker Books Australia) ISBN 9781760651884 PB RRP $17.99

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Charlotte (Charlie), the main character of this book for young people, is super-sensitive and has a condition known as synaesthesia. It enables her to see colours in odd places, like letters or days of the week; she sees musical notes as water and sometimes she ‘hears’ colours. She says, ‘The sky was blood red the day my brother Eli died.’

Set in a modern-day small town –Cowra NSW -- among the remnants of a Japanese POW camp, the story starts when Charlie meets Japanese exchange student Kenichi (Ken), who is staying with her and her mother, an experience she is not looking forward to. When Charlie and Ken start to investigate Himura Shin, a former Japanese prisoner-of-war who gave Charlie’s great-grandmother a photo which hangs in the local information centre, Charlie’s senses intensify and she experiences flashbacks, nausea, and hears unfamiliar voices in her head pulling her back to the town's violent past. In fact, since Ken came to stay, anything to do with the POW camp or the photo her mother donated to the town, physically affects her.  Ken, too, wants to find the whereabouts of the remains of his great-grandfather. This leads to Charlie and Ken undertaking a break, enter and steal adventure.
This unusual historical mystery manages to combine heartfelt contemporary storytelling at its best, with vivid historical flashbacks of a period of Australia’s history. As time passes and Charlie and Ken work together to solve the problem, Charlie overcomes her resistance to having Ken in her life: she bonds with him and by the time Ken is ready to return to Japan, she has come to like and respect him. Highly recommended for YA readers.

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