Even though there is sadness. It’s not all sadness, and the sadness there is doesn’t feel like it’s without hope.

That’s the thing about being a kid, in books at least.

There’s still hope.

There’s always hope.

Aster’s Good, Right Things by Kate Gordon, page 54.

I’m a big fan of Kate Gordon’s writing (The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn, Girl Running, Boy Falling, Writing Clementine) so I was excited to receive an advance reader’s copy of Aster’s Good, Right Thing (Riveted Press, 2020).

Eleven-year-old Aster is a kid riddled with anxiety and doubt, and tries to fix her world by doing one good, right thing every day.

I can’t let go of them–the good, right things, especially–because if I do … I’ll turn into a cloud and I’ll float away, and a storm will come and blow me to nothing.

Reading this book, gave me the same stone of despair in my stomach that I had while reading adult title, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015). Utterly devastating reading. To see inside the mind of someone battling anxiety is difficult, but Gordon rewards readers with an engaging protagonist. Aster is an extremely likeable character and the well-paced narrative keeps the story moving towards hope.

Reading can do many things and if one of its aims is to build empathy, Aster’s Good, Right Thing achieves this beautifully giving readers a real view into what living with anxiety translates to for ordinary, everyday life.

I predict oodles of great things for this middle-grade book which has the potential to change how we view living with anxiety. Highly recommended. An absolute must-read for anyone, old or young, who wants to better understand mental health challenges.

More Information:

Aster attends a school for gifted kids, but she doesn’t think she’s special at all. If she was, her mother wouldn’t have left. Each day Aster must do a good, right thing—a challenge she sets herself, to make someone else’s life better. Nobody can know about her ‘things’, because then they won’t count. And if she doesn’t do them, she’s sure everything will go wrong. Then she meets Xavier. He has his own kind of special missions to make life better. When they do these missions together, Aster feels free, but if she stops doing her good, right things will everything fall apart?

A sensitive, #OwnVoices narrative voice in the vein of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, The Thing About Oliver and So Much to Tell You.

Themes include: parental separation, mental health (anxiety and depression), friendship, fostering and parental neglect, diverse characters, growth, change and identity.

Award-winning Tasmanian author: Kate won the 2016 IBBY Ena Noel award for Writing Clementine. Kate’s YA novel Girl Running, Boy Falling was a 2019 CBCA Book of the Year Award Notable book.

  • Format Paperback
  • Publisher Yellow Brick Books
  • Country Australia
  • Published 1 November 2020
  • Pages 196
  • ISBN 9780648492573