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Being Here

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  269 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The boy sat in the branches of the fifth tree on the left, his scuffed boots dangling. Leah turned her eyes up. His face was heavily freckled, his eyes large, brown and almond-shaped. His hair stuck out at wild angles. 'Hello,' she said.

Sixteen-year-old Carly is interviewing Leah Cartwright for her local history project. But Leah resists, determined instead to tell her own
Paperback, 264 pages
Published February 2011 by Allen and Unwin
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Being Here is such a beautifully written book that I wanted to savour every word but also wanted to keep reading to find out the rest of the story.

Elderly Leah, alone in a nursing home, has never told anyone the story of her life, so when sixteen-year-old Carly wants to interview her for her local history project, Leah seizes the opportunity "because I need my story to live a little while longer" (p.128). She tells Carly about her childhood growing up on an isolated farm with her strict, deeply
Jun 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Lovely writing - I really enjoyed the wording. Every sentence was beautiful and made me want to read it out loud to someone.

As for other elements... I couldn't quite sink my teeth into the storyline. I was interested, definitely, but I didn't really understand any of it. The protagonist's thoughts and feelings are laid out rather well. By the end, I felt that I knew her better, but not completely.

At many points, I found myself realising a fear I had never felt before - the fear of growing old.
Cass -  Words on Paper
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it

[insert self-synopsis]

Has a lot of charm to it. This is the first book of Jonsberg's I have read, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I enjoyed reading this book. The writing in particular, was both impressive and refreshing. (example to be added) I appreciated the whole story within a story kind of approach that I believe Jonsberg took with this novel.

+ Characters of Leah Cartwright and Carly were both endearing, and I loved that the perspective was of Leah, at age 70+. Her words are ful
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Gee
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Will reread. I like Jonsberg's other stuff but this was a whole new level. A story about story and imagination to deal with tragedy. Elderly female POV, mostly female relationships. And I think he nailed it.
Ashley Choo
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This gorgeous book made me tear up at least 5 times, and I just love how the language used, though simple, evokes such strong emotions in me.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
i've just remembered why i love Barry Jonsberg so much. it's been a long time since i last read his work, and i honestly believe that this is his best one yet.

this won't be a very coherent review, because my eyes got a little watery, haha. which is incredibly rare because i'm usually a cold-hearted bastard. thanks a lot, Mr Jonsberg.

Being Here is a stunning novel for so many different reasons. It is told in the point of view of an old woman in a nursing home. that never happens in young adult
Amber 🌱🌻
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Books are alive, but only when you open them. When you open the first page the story stirs, shakes itself, becomes full of people and places and animals. A world grows around you. And that world is yours to explore each time you turn that page.

although she knew how the story would end, she was never fully sure until she got there. because she felt change was possible in any story, but the act of reading kept things the same.

you give. you take. None of it makes much difference

Is there a story beh
Erica Tan
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Being Here was able to weave several meaningful topics that undoubtedly gave this book its own powerful message.

The character Leah phases back and forth between the past and the present, reminiscing about her youth. Leah reflects about the things that she didn't quite understand when she was young. This brought a connection for the reader because I'm sure many people experience this through several moments in their lives. Leah starts becoming comfortable with her story and soon told her life fr
Watermelon Daisy
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Being Here stunned me.

By looking at the pitch, I assumed both Carly and Leah were teenagers. Boy was I surprised to find Leah was an elderly woman, just hanging onto her life because she has a story to tell. I guess that’s just the beginning of the originality of this story.

I love, mostly, how nobody’s portrayed as completely good or complete bad –nobody in this story at all. Not even Jane, who is an extremely minor character in the book. There are always quirks and faults in each of the charact
Adele Broadbent
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Leah Cartwright is elderly, living in a rest home and has days where her mind is sharp as a sliver of glass or tossed as a plastic bag in the wind.

When Carly, a young student, asks to interview her for a class project, Leah begins to tell the story of her youth. It’s not exactly what Carly wants but Leah needs to share it before she can’t remember. Although Leah was fiercely loved as a child, her life was grim, controlled and lonely. Her escape was books and the imaginary friend that appeared on
Deborah Abela
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thought Being Here was a beautiful novel, and I absolutely loved reading it.
Barry Jonsberg writes exquisite descriptions, which held my attention right from the beginning. I enjoyed reading the book from Leah’s perspective, as she provides witty thoughts and intelligent observations.

Throughout the novel, I found myself wanting to turn the pages to not only continue the plot, but also read more of the wonderful description. I also wanted to decide whether Adam was real or imaginary.

Being Her
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book strikes me as very similar to another Australian book I've read this year, The Ghost's Child by Sonya Hartnett. And like I loved that book, I loved this one too. It was so hauntingly beautiful, and so sad, it made me finish the book with a sad smile. I never really understood, though, if (spoiler) The boy (I've forgotten his name) was imaginary or not. (spoiler end) It was still a beautiful masterpiece, well done, Mr Jonsberg.
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-to-buy-jar
** Spoiler Alert **
Being Here is a beautiful story about an elder woman, Leah Cartwright, who is losing her memory with her old age, and Carly, a young student who is doing a project on the history of the town. When Carly meets Leah she is taken on a wonderful journey hearing everything about Leah’s past and her friend Adam. Leah tells her everything because she knows that soon she will no longer be able to share her life story and she wanted it to live a little longer than she will. The languag
Jun 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
At first it sucked me in, made me curious, charmed me with words, but at the end, that is all I was left with. Words. It was so confusing at times! I can't even understand what the author was trying to do, but at the end of this book, he failed to catch me as a reader. The writing though was magnificent and at one time, I wished I had written this book. But that was at the beginning, before the cruel mother and just, plain wrongness happened. Skipped through quite a lot concerning the mother and ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Being Here is an incredibly captivating novel. Leah is an elderly lady who just wants her past to be told before she dies, which is hard when she feels nobody will be willing to listen, that is, until, she meets Carly, who comes to interview her for her school project. Leah begins to tell of her amazing past, and Carly can’t help but show interest and, as Leah’s tells Carly of her past, the two form a unbreakable bond of friendship and understanding.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read some Barry Jonsberg for a while. He is a local secondary school teacher here in Darwin and is quite a prolific write of Young Adult fiction. I loved this book. He covers some very sensitive issues about parent child relationships, young and old lives, and real and imaginary friendships. It's written quite sensitively without shying away from some real conflict. Highly recommended.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Possibly I wasn't in the right mood, but it didn't grab me. It was written very poetically, when I was more in the mood for some action and drama. Written from the perspective of an old lady on the cusp of life and death worked well, and Jonsberg managed to convey the weariness well - which is perhaps why I grew weary of the story relatively easily. Recommended for people who value writing over plot, but it wasn't my thing.
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
absolutely loved it! having read many of Jonsberg's other books, I decided to give this one a go. A high schooler, Carly, has a social history assignment to research and decides to interview an elderly resident of a retirement home, Leah. Leah wants her story told and remembered so is happy have her memories recorded. The dialogue, the relationship between Carly and Leah, the secrets from the past all make for a great read.
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Haunting and beautifully written. Not my kind of book but the story haunted me. Sort of in a good way. I needed to run to my happy books afterwards but the experience of the book felt kind of exhilarating. Like I've already said, beautifully written. Maybe just not my type of book but it kept me interested throughout the whole book.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So far, and I've only just started, this book is amazing.
The language is so detailed and descriptive, my heart was filled with joy!
It could take me out of my stressful world and put me something different.
For me to say that means that the book is amazing... this will go on my 'favourites' shelf!
More to come later once I've finished!
Cathy Smith
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very different from his others. Refreshingly reflective. I thought it was anti Christian but realised that it contained the full essence of true Christian faith and hope in the end. I loved the idea that the end of this life is the beginning of th real story.
Lauren Burr
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Any book that plays with my emotions, I like. This book made me gasp out aloud, literally LOL and cry so many times. The description is incredible and made the story feel so real. The only thing that pulled my rating down was that I never really understood 'Adam.' He remained a mystery to me.
Camille White
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would vote for this one.
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved it, and it was so sad, even slightly gruesome in parts. Amazing, 10 out of 10 for sure
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sweet and charming.
Ostelin Randa
Jul 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Nope. The description fooled me.. its not like that at all.
ISLN (Int'l School Library Network) Singapore
An award-winning novel from Australia about the secrets of life - and time.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you loved The Notebook, this one is definitely worth a try. Very touching, confronting, beautifully written.
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