Solo by Alyssa Brugman

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What do we do to our children without even realising it? Solo is the new book by Alyssa Brugman that focuses on Mackenzie, a teenager who is displaying anti-social behaviour and perhaps some form of mental illness. We journey with Mackenzie from violent and threatening behaviour to eventual understanding and acceptance of her life and her future.

 Mackenzie is nominated by her counsellor to attend a wilderness youth camp. It is in this scenario that Mackenzie relives her past and slowly imparts the facts and the impact of these on her life to both the reader and to herself.

 The novel is written in the first person, however, it is not long before the reader beings to question Mackenzie’s reliability as a truthful and reliable narrator. It is Mackenzie’s and the reader’s ability to work through the issues and Mackenzie’s ‘re-remembering’ of horrific events that she has attempted to exorcise from her mind that eventually makes sense of her life and the novel.

 Brugman enters and portrays Mackenzie’s mind so thoroughly and vividly that the reader is taken along with Mackenzie’s every lie and delusion. Occasionally deciphering which are the delusions, the lies and the truth becomes difficult, but once a resolution is reached, the reader can identify Brugman’s skill at manipulating the reader to feel exactly what Mackenzie feels, to live through what she is living through. Brugman’s ability to impart only as much information as she’s prepared to impart at certain points keeps the reader engrossed and guessing.

 Alyssa Brugman has done it again. Yet another brilliant but challenging work that will make its mark amongst important young adult literature.

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