Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Choke by Sofie Laguna, a book that I want all of you to know about and read.
Abandoned by her mother and seldom visited by her unpredictable, violent father, 10-year-old Justine is raised by her grandfather, Pop – a man tormented by visions of war. Through years of poverty and neglect, Justine finds solace in the staggering natural beauty of the nearby Murray River. But when outside threats infiltrate even this sanctuary, who is there to protect her from danger?
Exposed to a lethal world, Justine must navigate the final years of her precarious childhood alone. She must find ways to endure, she must run when she has to, and, ultimately, she must fight back.
Wow. For a long time I didn’t quite know how to write this review. I was feeling very emotional after reading this book. I was a sobbing mess.
The Choke tells the story of Justine, who is only 10 years old at the start of the book and the story. She was abandon by her parents and is raised by her grandfather “Pop”, who has been and continued to be haunted by the memories of war. Justine is often neglected and she suffers from dyslexia and with no parental help and guideline, she is often very slow to understand things. She is also often bullied in school. With all these going against Justine, she finds peace and solace in her little hide out place in the narrow part of the Murray river “The Choke” where she has “built” a made-believe home in her made-believe world. As Justine grows older and becomes a teenager, there are more things going against her and in order to survive this complicated world, Justine has to find her own way out.
When I saw the synopsis of The Choke, I knew I needed to read this story. I was prepared that this wasn’t going to be an easy read given the subject matter. However I wasn’t quite prepared how much it did impact me emotionally.
The Choke is a devastating, raw, piercing and heart-breaking read. Sofie Laguna has created this troubled but loveable character that speaks to readers’ hearts. To have a child as narrative in a literary fiction is not easily achievable but the author has done an exceptional job portraying Justine’s simple mind and innocent world. It breaks my heart for all the things that have happened to Justine and all that are done to her. Every time Justine goes to “The Choke” to “live” her made-believe world makes me want to cry with distressing tears!
This book has tackled some very serious and heavy subjects: neglected child, bullying, violence, sexual abuse and so on. It is not an easy read. Sofie Laguna’s poetic proses have heightened the destructive and tragic life that is forced upon Justine and the devastation we are all feeling while reading it.
As mentioned in the beginning of my review, I felt very emotional after finishing this book. I feel grief and injustice for Justine. I want her to be loved and protected. She deserves to be loved.
The Choke is not an easy book to read, it is heavy, it is painful and brutal but so well written. I will recommend this to all of you as it really is a literary gem.
Thank you so much Sian, ED PR and Gallic Books for sending me this beautiful copy to review.
The Choke by Sofie Laguna is published by Aardvark Bureau in hardback on 28 March.
About The Author
Sofie Laguna’s second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep―shortlisted for the Stella Prize―won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the US and the UK, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Sofie’s many books for young people have been published in the US, the UK and in translation throughout Europe and Asia. She has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award, and her books have been named Honour Books and Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Sofie lives in Melbourne with her husband, illustrator Marc McBride, and their two sons.
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