Powerful and disturbing—’Stone Girl’ is a must-read for anyone who cares about Australia’s children.
‘Stone Girl’ tells the story of twelve-year old Sophie who finds herself completely alone when her mother dies unexpectedly. Sophie becomes a ward of the state and is shunted around accommodation options without ever having the opportunity to resume a ‘normal’ life; one with school and routine, and where people care about how you’re doing and what you’re achieving.
Eleni Hale tackles the subject of children in care with unflinching honesty in her debut young adult novel, ‘Stone Girl’. Hale mines her personal experiences as a ward of the state during her teen years to bring readers an authentic account of what life can be like for children in Victoria’s child welfare system.
My reading of ‘Stone Girl’ gave me the impression that Sophie fell between the gaps in the welfare system, but what if the gaps are great big chasms and we are failing some of our most vulnerable and voiceless children and youth?
Although the subject of ‘Stone Girl’ is confronting, Hale writes eloquently:
I’m at the police station. There’s blood splattered across my face and clothes. In this tiny room with walls the colour of winter sky I hug a black backpack full of treasures. Only one thing is certain . . . no one can ever forgive me for what I’ve done.
‘Stone Girl’ is a well-paced, honest and devastating read with a surprising message of hope. Hale’s book is important because it sheds light on Australia’s forgotten children. Highly recommended reading.
A heartbreaking novel of raw survival and hope, and the children society likes to forget. A stunning and unforgettable debut YA for older readers.
An unspeakable event changes everything for twelve-year-old Sophie. No more Mum, school or bed of her own. She’s made a ward of the state and grows up in a volatile world where kids make their own rules, adults don’t count and the only constant is change.
Until one day she meets Gwen, Matty and Spiral. Spiral is the most furious, beautiful boy Sophie has ever known. And as their bond tightens she finally begins to confront what happened in her past.
Eleni Hale was a reporter at the Herald Sun, a communications strategist for the union movement and has written for many print and online news publications. Her short story fig was published as part of the ABC’s In their branches project and she has received three Varuna awards. She lives in Melbourne, and is currently working on her second book. Stone Girl is her first novel.
Read my interview with Eleni Hale…