Marsh and Me by Martine Murray
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publication: May 1st 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from Text
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
There’s a hill out the back of Joey’s house. Hardly anyone goes there—it’s not a beautiful place, just a covered-over old rubbish tip. But Joey likes it up there. It’s his hill—somewhere he likes to go to wonder about life. He longs to be the best at something, to be a famous astronaut, or mountain climber, to stand out.
When Joey discovers a tree house in an old peppercorn tree on the hill, he is annoyed that someone has invaded his special place. But he is also curious about who the intruder could be. But making contact isn’t easy. The tree-house girl is wild and hostile and full of secrets—Joey needs to work out a way to win her over. And as he does, he finds a way to shine.
Marsh and Me is a story about friendship and trust and learning to believe in yourself and what makes you special. Martine Murray’s beautifully rounded characters, with all their self-doubts, yearnings and wise insights, will delight readers young and old.
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Marsh and Me is a story of friendship, family, social and self acceptance and the healing power of music.
The story is told from Joey’s point of view (the Me part of the title). Joey comes from what I take to be a middle class white australian family. He is a sensitive, thoughtful and caring boy. Joey begins the story full of self doubt, not knowing where he fits in the world or who he wants to be.
Joey has his hill. His oasis in a world where he doesn’t feel he fits. March turns up on his hill. His peace is shattered. His sanctuary invaded.
Marsh (or Ruzica) is stuck in the in-between, she is both Serbian and Australian. Born in Australia to migrant parents, she’s never felt she belonged in either place. As her father struggles to cope with the loss of her mother, March seeks shelter. She builds a fort on a hill to hide away from the world.
Marsh is stand-off-ish at first and scares Joey away, but he preservers and a friendship that they both benefit greatly from grows. As the story progresses we get to see Joey’s friendship help March and her father start to heal. And we see Marsh help Joey believe in himself and attempt things he always wanted to, but was too afraid to do alone.
We get a little taste of Serbian culture and music through Marsh and her father. And it was wonderful seeing Joey learn about Marsh’s family’s migrant experience and learn to understand and feel their pain – a fantastic lesson in empathy the MG audience won’t realise they are getting. Joey’s family are supportive of the friendship and completely accepting of Marsh and her father.
This book left me with feelings of love and hope and I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to go get my hands on more of Martine Murray’s work. 5/5 warm and fuzzy stars
Marsh and me is a beautiful and powerful story that I think is a must read for all Aussie primary schoolers and Aussie MG/ #LoveOzYA aficionados.
Edit: I read Marsh and Me in November and I am now just posting the review (life got in the way), I’ve now also finished reading Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars. It is a story about friendship, family, being your best self and having a connection to the world around you. 4/5 adorable stars.
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