Book review

Other Echoes by Adele Geras (2004)

Have you ever been in a situation that is so new and difficult that you don't know what to be frightened of most?

Flora Baxter goes to live in Borneo. At first she thinks the snakes and spiders are her worst fears:

'Are they poisonous, Dad?'
'Some are and some aren't, I daresay, but you shouldn't stop to enquire. Avoid the nasty brutes, and if you see one, run like hell.'

But that was before she met the other children in her class at school. They're all rough tough sporty types, used to the outdoor free-and-easy life of expatriate families in the tropics. Now that is hard for Flora because she's a bit weedy, but she doesn't realize how disliked she is until she inadvertently overhears the awful truth:

A drip. I was a drip. I couldn't get the word out of my head. It floated about behind my eyes and made me want to cry. Drip, drip, drip, like water off a roof. Wet. Soppy - oh, how horrible. I knew I wasn't brave, I never said I was daring, or good at climbing, but to be a drip - I couldn't bear it.

Poor Flora. It shakes her self-confidence to the very core. But then she discovers a very strange thing. The children at school are all frightened of ghosts. And there is a ghost in the abandoned house on the hillside. Well, Flora is frightened of ghosts too. At least, she thinks she is, but when she actually visits the house, alone, to try to conquer her fears she discovers a lot - about herself, about ghosts, and about the adults around her.

There are different kinds of bravery, I think.

What can I read next?

Adele Geras has written plenty of other books. For something much longer, and a rattling good story, have a look at this one:

Other Echoes is narrated by an older Flora Baxter looking back on her childish adventures in Borneo. If you like this device I think you will love this book by David Almond:

Or you might like to read how Yoss grew up and learned to be a man. Have a look at this brooding adventure by Odo Hirsch:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Other Echoes features in these lists: