The Year the Maps Changed by Rachel Hennessy
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzMG
Publication: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Source: Review copy from publisher as part of #AusYABloggers tour – Thank You
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I was eleven when everything started and twelve by the end. But that’s another way maps lie, because it felt like the distance travelled was a whole lot further than that.
Sorrento, Victoria – 1999
Fred’s family is a mess. Fred’s mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop is at the Rye Rehabilitation Centre recovering from a fall; Luca’s girlfriend, Anika, has moved in; and Fred’s just found out that Anika and Luca are having a baby of their own. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.
But even as the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, a crisis from the other side of it comes crashing in. When 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to be housed at one of Australia’s ‘safe havens’ on an isolated headland not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family, as she navigates one extraordinary year that will change them all.
The Year The Maps Changed is a story of love and family, a story of grief and finding home.
Winifred (Fred, Freddo, Winnie) lost her mum when she was only Six and since then it is always just been Fred, Her Pop and her adoptive father Luca – Until Luca’s new girlfriend and her ten-year-old son Sam comes to live with them. Fred does not cope with the change very well but keeps all her emotions bottled inside. When Luca & Anika announce they are having a baby, it makes Fred feel left out and lost – it makes her feel that there is no room left for her.
The story follows POV character Fred as she comes to terms with her new family and learns about the refugees coming to her little part of the world and how unfair life can be. The story starts with Fred being 11 years old, but by the end she has turned 12, with the story being set out over the year of 1999. I was 12 in 1999! and have vague memories of the Kosovo Albanians being taken to Point Nepean and other places in Australia. It gave the story this extreme depth, the true events mixed in with Danielle Binks fantastic story telling.
The whole way through while Fred is coming to terms with her new family, there is the refugee storyline unfolding – which I do not want to talk too much about and spoil the story. BUT I will say that two people Fred knows very well end up in trouble for helping an escaped refugee that Fred develops a special friendship with.
POV Fred is a smart, kind and caring girl who gets a little lost but manages to emotionally find her way home to the people she loves and embrace her new bigger family life. It is impossible not to fall for Fred and her family. I loved seeing, or rather feeling, Fred mature and grow into a beautiful little lady throughout the course of this story. It was really touching watching Sam and Fred slowly growing closer and developing a real brother and sister bond. But my favourite part of the story had me crying! When Fred comes to the realisation that Anika loves her and that is okay to love Anika back, that loving Anika like a mum, was not going to mean she would forget her mum or love her mum any less. Oh how my heart exploded with love.
This was a truly touching story that will stay with me and one I intend to share with my boys when they are a little older. Bravo Binks!!!!!
About The Author: Danielle Binks is a Mornington Peninsula-based author and literary agent. Her debut book ‘The Year the Maps Changed’ is out with Hachette on April 28 – a historic-fiction novel for 10-14 year-olds, set in 1999 it deals with the events of ‘Operation Safe Haven’ and Australia’s biggest humanitarian exercise to-date.