Review – Alaska by Sue Saliba

Review by Sharon Marchingo from Crusoe 7-12 Secondary College.

Alaska by Sue Saliba is a gentle story set in modern dayAlaska. Eighteen year old Mia goes toAlaska to visit her sister Em and her new baby. Their mother has been hospitalised back inAustralia from an alcohol related illness. Mia needs to escape, to rekindle her close bond with her sister and get breathing space from the demands of her mother. This is the story of the effects of alcoholism on children and is one that is not often told in young adult fiction, particularly because in this case the alcoholic is the mother. This is a story about finding yourself and finding love. It is about forgiveness and sisterly ties, especially formed amidst dysfunctional family arrangements.

Not all is as seems when Mia arrives inAlaska. Her sister is distracted by her baby Christian and the controlling demands of her husband. There appears to be little time for Mia. She is plagued with thoughts of guilt about abandoning her mother and into this emotional mix she finds love with Ethan. What to do? Does she stay inAlaskaor return toAustraliato help heal the relationship with her mother?

The setting for this tour of discovery is the beautiful Alaskan wilderness and the impending threat to the pristine environment by oil company, Axaoil. This is entwined with the growth of her relationship with Ethan. But a decision must be made and Mia decides to return toAustraliaand heal the family ties that bind rather than risk a relationship that may not fill the void in her life.

Alaska is a poetic novel that spends much time describing Mia’s anguish. It is definitely one for the girls and would have limited appeal within that range. It is not a novel that would lend itself as a class set but would be an ideal companion read to novels that deal with the themes of family dysfunction, alcohol abuse, journeys, love and growing up. It is suited to older readers in the Young Adult Fiction cohort.

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