Nomes's Reviews > Alaska

Alaska by Sue Saliba
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4.5 stars

alaska is a gorgeous, gorgeous book. it's breathless and aching and it completely captures that swirl of coming-of-age emotions. the fear and hope and vulnerability we all feel. the fleeting moments of deep happiness pitched against the uncertainties of the world and your place in it.

it's a contemp but written in such a lyrical way that it occasionally has an other-worldy vibe: it's whimsical. sue saliba's prose is stunning ~ she catches sentiments in the most aching of ways. the story washes over you, pulls you in, makes you gasp and sigh.

it was as if she was on the cusp of herself, her edges, and she might soon fall in. (p 172)


it's not written traditionally. there are no capital letters. there's snippets of scenes and snatches of dialogue. the narrative flows along, mostly linear, but at times swirling back through time.

i loved, adored and ached for mia. looking at the world through her eyes was stunning. she's carving out her place in the world:

whether he (ethan) knew it or not, she was casting him in a role, building a story around him, creating a tone. it was what she'd done for herself: mia, the devoted sister of em; mia, the emotional daughter of her alcoholic mother. what particular places she inhabited. what awful territory she guarded. (p16)


plot-wise i will not spoil it for you ~ but mia stumbles across things she cannot ignore. things that stir her and shape her and give her courage to find what she believes in:

suddenly mia wanted to stop, to reverse things. to walk back to the door and the time that she had just slipped through it, that moment. but she couldn't. something else was saying go, go deeper into what is here. right here with you.

she paused. she thought of the night-time sky. it was beautiful and terrifying all at once, seductive like standing on the edge of a truth where everything thought impossible was instantly and completely available. she moved forward. (p 61)


mia is brave and resilient. she's running away from melbourne and her past but also trying to come to terms with it. she falls in love with ethan, in his twenties, who feels like an extension of herself, but he is also evasive and maybe not at all who she needs him to be.

there they lay, hours later, on the floor not far from the table but amongst blankets and cushion that ethan had dragged from the nearby couch. mia turned her head to look through the long window. she saw the road she had travelled along in the distance. she saw ice against the ground and the sunlight shining on it and she smiled at the strange combination of things. how just at that moment, as she looked out, with the comfort of ethan beside her, she could accept the unlikeliness of the world. (p 76)


i also keenly felt the relationship between mia and her mum. all that it was and is and all that mia wished it to be. the issue of her mum's illness was captured so deftly. in so few words there are so many shades of grey.

the setting of alaska is breathtaking. the forest is alive, it feels magical. it's right at the heartbeat of the novel.

you can't have beauty without danger. mia's words had sprung from somewhere covered over in her, whispered alive by the forest. you can't have life and absolute safety. (p92)


i could quote this entire book. it's sentiments, the language. this is a book with a soul. one more passage i loved for it's simplicity and it's heartbeat and for that sense of life and hope and the future and everything in between:

that night she lay beside ethan,
mia's heart made a sound
that no one else heard.

she was here in alaska, with ethan, with em. safe from certain parts of the world and certain parts of herself.

here - if she chose - was a certain story.

or she could listen to another way.

outside it was night and dark and the sky was upside down. the forest called to her. why had she come? what was it that a world so remote had to tell her.

it wasn't hard to know. not now. (p 182)


recommended: books like alaska make me fiercely proud of the aussie authors who write for our teens. this book is brave and true and full of heart and soul.

it's for fans of Jaclyn Moriarty's whimsical and soulful characters (think elizabeth clarry).

it's for fans of sonya hartnett's astounding prose and mystical stories.

it's for fans of verse novels ~ with it's lilting and lyrical prose.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Wendy Darling Dearest Nomes...everything you produce is so beautifully written! Love this review.


Nomes Dearest Wendy

thank you

i loved the book and feel my review only *just* touches on how beautifully written it is <3

love Nomes


message 3: by Nic (new) - added it

Nic What Wendy said ^^ Love this review :)

I am going to have break my book buying ban for this LOL.


Nomes you can borrow my copy nic ~ i know how much you so want to stick with your book buying ban ;)


Erica (daydreamer) Beautiful review. This books sounds magical. And from the quotes you posted, I'm already in love with the writing.


Nomes thanks erica

the writing is just so divine. i am incredibly in love with it <3


message 7: by Lenni (new) - added it

Lenni Great review! This sounds stunning, I think I'll have to go see if they have it down at the book store :)


message 8: by Milly (new) - added it

Milly i could only hope to write reviews like you Nomes. they're so pretty and so eloquent. it's cool how your review is in lowercase and somewhat in verse as well. nice complement to the book itself.


message 9: by Nalnac (new) - added it

Nalnac you make me want to read this book so bad! Thanks. lovely review :)


Nomes thanks guys :) i sometimes find reviews hard to write but this one was easy :) it was a gorgeous book


message 11: by Milly (new) - added it

Milly Nomes wrote: "thanks guys :) i sometimes find reviews hard to write but this one was easy :) it was a gorgeous book"

...and gorgeous review!


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