Latest Review of Ben’s Challenge

October 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Publishing, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
Tags: , , ,

It was lovely to receive this review from Brenda on Goodreads

Brenda’s review

4 of 5 stars
Read from August 09 to 10, 2013 — I own a copy

Ben lived with his Mum, Dad, brother Peter and sister Helen. At thirteen he was in first year high school in a small town in country Australia, where his German descent made him the butt for racist taunts and comments from a few members of the community. He was called “kraut” and “jerry” so often it bounced off him. His friend Joe fared no better, as he was a refugee along with his family. Even though they were hard workers, the common name-calling taunt was “reffo”. It hurt, but they were used to it.

The day which was to change Ben and his family’s life forever started the same as any other. But when Ben was waiting for his dad to return from work, waiting for the usual sound of his motorbike to come up the drive; the one which arrived caused him to frown in confusion – it had a completely different noise. The policeman at the front door spread terror through them all; their Dad had been hit by a car on his way home – it was a hit and run, and his Dad had not survived.

As the family struggled through their grief, Ben was frustrated by the efforts of the police. So Ben and his best friend Joe decided to take matters into their own hands. Ben started working in the small shop in town, delivering groceries and stacking shelves for Mr Fraser. As it was school holidays, the wonderful six week Christmas break, they had free time to explore, swim in the billabong and search for answers to questions that were always there.

Will Ben find the answers he is so desperate for? What will happen to the young friends in the heady days of summer in the 1950s when Elvis Presley was all the rage and racial prejudice a fact of life?

A thoroughly enjoyable novel of a young teenager’s strength, determination and courage in the face of terrible adversity. Highly recommended.

Review of Ben’s Challenge

October 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Making History, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I mentioned that I had received two reviews of my novel, Ben’s Challenge. Here is the second one – and I am pleased that Marian was so honest in her assessment of the book:

Review of Ben’s Challenge by Linda Visman

I want at the outset to declare two things. I am a 50’s baby and I know the author. This provides me with a bit of a challenge.  I grew up on diet of meat and three veg, respect for the Queen, a quiet uncomfortable awe for the name Robert Menzies, church and Sunday school, 10 shillings in a card from grandma at birthdays, the rote learning of the names of the rivers of northern New South Wales, an uncomfortable struggle with the notion that girls couldn’t behave like boys, but a freedom to run and play with friends without adult supervision.  You behaved yourself because mum would invariably find out and then you’d be in for it.  Like many before me, I’m starting to feel that the past, even with its dark stories of abuse and betrayal, is tending to look a bit more simple and authentic than the present.

I’ve known Linda Visman since the early 80s and though it’s been a friendship marked by distance and other lives it is still a friendship built on affection and respect.  Usually, in the selfish consumption of fiction, the author per se is not considered. It is plot, character and good descriptive dialogue that keeps the interest. To not like a book when you have no affinity with the author is neither here nor there. When you do know them and they have written about a time that is etched into an affectionate part of memory, the simple process of reading becomes complicated. 

To be honest, I was afraid I wouldn’t like Ben’s Challenge. I was prepared to be disappointed by the writing, prepared for the possibility of poor dialogue, unconvincing characters, forced plot.  It was in fact a good read, and within two chapters I could let go of my doubts, relax and trust Linda Visman’s handle on the craft of good uncomplicated writing and simply fall into the story: its characters, its descriptive nature and of course the many things that consume the mind, body and summer days of Ben Kellerman. 

Bens Challenge is a number of things: a good mystery story, simply but effectively told, a journey into the language and mores of an Australia that is fast disappearing, a relevant and current examination of the emotions of children who, having faced the loss of a parent, now experience the uncomfortable realisation that mum or dad, the memory of whom is an emotional touchstone, can and probably will be replaced.

There were a few elements of the writing that caused a slight hesitation. In the initial stages I wasn’t sure as to whether the book was too heavily centred on the language and memory vignettes of the times- we all too well knew of teachers, usually men if you went to public school, nuns if you went to catholic school, who caned too hard and too often, but the ‘mystery aspect’ of the story soon became the focus of the story and Linda Visman builds it convincingly.

For me, it provided a wonderful excuse to take to the couch and just keep reading one wintry wet afternoon.  The resolution of the mystery surrounding the bike and the tone of his brother’s confession was a bit stylistically unsatisfactory and the story also ended a tad abruptly.

Ben had been challenged and had undergone a journey in which he had faced physical and emotional duress. He emerges at the end of the novel a stronger and more perceptive boy as a result and for me the closing of the book would have been enhanced with a more reflective focus.  But, as I have said, these are slight aspects of what is essentially an excellent book for children and for a ‘50’s baby’ to read and enjoy.

I have lent the book to an inquisitive 8 year old, who gets jokes and loves i-pads and digital technology. He also loves reading. His dad, also a child of the 50’s, is reading it with him at night. It will be interesting to see how Liam engages with Ben and his story, and how his dad responds to a setting which is very much a reflection of his own childhood. I’ll let you know.

Marian Grant

*** You can purchase a copy of the book in print form from Amazon by clicking on the book cover at the top of the page ***

Review of “Ben’s Challenge”

October 4, 2011 at 4:21 am | Posted in Writing | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

It is wonderful when a reader thinks enough of a story to let the writer know  how it has affected them. Carol Rose, who I have not met,  read a  copy of the book that her friend had purchased from the local store, where I left some to be sold on consignment. Carol sent her comments via the email address she found on the inside cover.

I am pleased to publish this unsolicited review of Ben’s Challenge.

                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a well-crafted story that remembers the pace and values of ordinary life in 1950’s rural Australia.

It’s a good read, much of the pleasure is in being taken back to a world that I recognise. It’s a book for adults who were children in the 1940s and 1950s, rather than the kids of the fast-paced aggressive computer worlds of Carmageddon and Grand Auto Theft, of paved city streets, skateboards, tiled chlorinated swimming pools, and instant “communication”.

It’s a good reminder of how our values were forged. For example, the notion of paying your way comes out of a slower life, and a more austere, yet more egalitarian society, where even if we could pay for modest necessities on a weekly basis at the grocery store, we had to save for something we wanted. If you received credit it was likely to come out of compassion, from someone who knew you, and the circumstances of your family.

Our values came from a world where you could go overnight camping (if you were a boy!) with a jumper, a piece of canvas for groundsheet, a small sack of food, a box of matches – not the sort of “lifestyle” that the Contemporary Camping Shop would have you adopt.

It’s a book that explores the growing moral sensibility of a young person, intent on uncovering the truth about his father’s death by hit-and-run driver. It’s about loyalty and truthfulness between friends who come from quite different places.

This world is one in which children were children, but capable of taking on adult responsibility within the household; a world in which the polarity between boys and girls appeared later in life; a world in which bullies could change and soften; a world in which an older man could provide friendly guidance, support, and touch to a young boy, in which it was possible to imagine mutual trust and respect between generations. 

How refreshing a comment on the new rigidities, rapidly changing codes, and shallow betrayals of contemporary society! The 1950’s weren’t “the good old days” (there were bullies, injustice, crooks, poverty, snobbery, some speedsters…atom bomb tests, persecution of aboriginal people and  “communists” and those who wanted to escape suffocating family values…) but mostly they moved at a human pace, and this pace invited reflectiveness of a sensitive, perceptive young person. The speed at which many people move and “communicate” in 2011 leaves less room for circumspection or thoughtfulness.

This is a story that resonates with truth, and I thank L.M. Visman for giving me the opportunity to review my life, its formative influences, as lived in country Australia, specifically Cessnock and Wangi Wangi, in the 1950s.

Carol Rose

~~~~Click on the book title at top right of this page to purchase a copy from Amazon~~~~

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

The Curry Apple Orchard

A blog designed to remember the past and celebrate the present.

barsetshirediaries

A site for the Barsetshire Diaries Books and others

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

Leigh Warren :: Country Music Outlaw

The ramblings of Leigh Warren about himself, country music and maybe... well who knows

Diane Tibert

~ writer - editor - publisher ~

Looking Back

With Mick Roberts. Est. Online 2000

Explore China

Four weeks of flying, cycling, hiking, cruising, eating and exploring

Repurposed Genealogy

Explore What's Possible

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Home of Anna Wess, Writer & Ghost Chaser

Myths of the Mirror

Life is make believe, fantasy given form

Writing on the Pages of Life

Exploring, creating and celebrating the writing life

ME and the Boss

Motivation and life......lived and loved one day at a time.

QP and Eye

Easy Going Introvert Blogs Here

Our Rumbling Ocean

Every day brings new adventures

Victoria Norton

Short stories, poems, and comments on life.

Eatable

Making food intolerances tolerable