By Ursula Dubosarsky
Available now from Candlewick
This is one of those books that make people question what YA really is. This isn't a story about teenagers. The protagonists are younger than that for most of the slim novel. But does it appeal to teenagers? I think so. THE GOLDEN DAY is a tale about the loss of the innocence, naivete, and ignorance of childhood.
Eleven schoolgirls go on an outing with their teacher one day, their strange teacher who is dissatisfied with the Vietnam War and passionate about poetry (and poets). They return to their class without Miss Renshaw, determined to keep the outing a secret just as she asked. But soon it becomes clear that something happened to Miss Renshaw that day.
I love the way Ursula Dubosarksky, an Australian author, captures the mindset of the little girls. It's chatty and curious, but their worries are different than that of an adult. And her use of language is just wonderful. This could just as easily be published by an literary adult house like Nouvella as Candlewick, the US publisher or Allen & Unwin, the Australian publisher.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, which brings the book somewhere both more concrete and less than I was expecting. But I don't think it's an ending that doesn't work. It's one that's made me think about how I choose to interpret what happened, which is really what the whole book is working towards. It's a strange, haunting little story.
Is this YA? Perhaps that's a question for someone younger than me to answer. But I certainly think it's good, and worth reading between classes or on a lunch break. (The joys of brevity!) THE GOLDEN DAY is a thoughtful work, but not one that gets so bogged down in its own thoughts that it doesn't keep the pages turning. You will want to know just what happened to Miss Renshaw.