Lyla (Through My Eyes) Review

Title // Lyla (Through My Eyes)
Author // Fleur Beale
Publication Date // March 2018
Publisher // Allen & Unwin
Readership // Middle-Grade/Young Adult
Genre // Contemporary
Australian RRP // $16.99
Rating // ✭✭✭✭

I received a copy of Lyla from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A gripping and personal story about one girl’s experience of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and its aftermath.

Lyla has just started her second year of high school when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shakes Christchurch to pieces. Devastation is everywhere. While her police officer mother and trauma nurse father respond to the disaster, Lyla puts on a brave face, opening their home to neighbours and leading the community clean-up. But soon she discovers that it’s not only familiar buildings and landscapes that have vanished – it’s friends and acquaintances too. As the earth keeps shaking day after day, can Lyla find a way to cope with her new reality?

I’ve known about the Through My Eyes series of books for a few months now, but Lyla is the first opportunity I’ve had to read one of the books and I’m so glad I did. It was a unique reading experience for me because I was reading it with two hats – the first as a read of middle-grade/young adult books, and the second as a teacher.

As purely a reader, Lyla is a heart-breaking (yet hopeful) story of a young girl living through the Christchurch earthquakes and having to deal with not only a the ground shaking, but limited resources, absent family, losing friends and moving schools. It looks at the traumatic effect natural disasters can have on young people, as well as highlighting the resilience of those same young people. It’s beautifully and respectfully written, with well-developed characters.

As a teacher, I read it with the possibility of future teaching moments. I don’t currently teach students who are old enough to unpack Lyla in significant detail, but I have plenty of colleagues I’ll be passing it along to share with their class. There is great scope for helping young people understand the impact and implications of natural disasters, especially when they’re fortunate enough to live in a place with the likelihood of experiencing them first hand is limited.

I’ll be definitely looking out for the other books in the Through My Eyes collection.

I gave Lyla 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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