Reviews for Alaska, a new lyrical novel from award-winning Sue Saliba!

mia’s heart made a sound that no one heard except for mia
late one night when she woke from dreams into darkness.
ethan was asleep beside her, and em was a forest away.
outside it was night and dark and alaska.

the sky was upside down.

When Mia follows her sister halfway across the world to Alaska, she discovers that love can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful of places. But can Mia find the courage to follow her heart in Alaska? And what if the one you love is not all that you wish them to be?

A lyrical new novel from the winner of the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction with Something in the World called Love.

We asked some teen readers for their reviews of Alaska and this is what they said:

“Written by Australian novelist Sue Saliba, Alaska is a coming-of-age style story about a young girl called Mia who heads to Alaska to be with her sister Em and to try and make some sense out of a troubled past, and an alcohol abusive mother. As with most coming-of-age stories, it’s not what happens in the plot that matters so much as the thought process, challenges and acceptance that occurs on the way. Sue Saliba has a powerful, lyrical writing style that not only gets you into the head of Mia, but traps you there until you want, or even need to know how her story will end. I would certainly recommend this to anyone as I am certain that they will fall in love with Saliba’s writing just as I did.” Casey Causley

“Alaska is a dazzling novel. It’s poignant, heart wrenching and encapsulates the emotions and vulnerability of a young girl as she finds her place in her world. Alaska is not written in the traditional style, it is exempt from capital letters, and there are sudden extracts of scenes and dialogue. The story is told in a chronological order; however, there are moments when Mia takes the reader back in time to enjoy a pastime.

The character of Mia is admirable as she is a courageous young girl running from the burden that remains in Melbourne, Australia to Alaska where her Sister, Em lives. Mia finds love in a boy named Ethan but her love for him does not come without its complications and yet their perseverance is lovely.

Ever so evasively was Mia’s mother explored in the novel, however, those tiny snippets revealed so much about her mother’s illness and the relationship that existed between the mother and daughter. It was refreshing to read a novel where the relationships of characters were complex and stayed true to human nature.

A central aspect of the novel is the nature and environment and it was beautiful to see the connection Mia had with her surroundings. Her tie with the environment was particularly riveting to read as the closer and stronger her bond with the world became the more content she was with her soul and her identity. By the end of the novel, the relationship between Mia and the world transcended all and inspired the reader to let go and embrace the world for what it is. Alaska is a novel about love, identity and one’s place in the world. This beautiful novel evoked sorrow, laughter and happiness in the course of the storyline.”
Cass Hole

Alaska is told in gorgeous, lyrical episodic verse, free from constraints of some punctuation. While this aspect takes a while to appreciate, once accustomed to it, it only adds to the raw beauty of the writing.

The relationships between characters in Alaska are incredibly well-written, realistic, and explore different dynamics and their effects on other aspects of the characters’ lives. The scenes in the novel where characters interact will take your breath away.

Evoked clearly and brilliantly even through third person is Mia’s voice. Her tone is quietly intense, sometimes almost melancholy, and full of wonder. She’s was an interesting and uniquely thoughtful character to read about.

Everything about this book is completely gorgeous. The prose, the story, the message; even the design. The cover is designed by Allison Colpoys, winner of an APA Design Award in 2011. The subtle things about the illustration are the best about it: the way the animals have the same, piercing eyes; the way the barcode on the back is worked into an illustration of a tree trunk; the way the headings within the work match the cover’s typography.

Alaska is a quietly powerful story that could teach anyone lessons about the appreciating the world and the people around us. A definite must-read.”
Skye Handley

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