Review for Julia and the Shark

Review for Julia and the Shark

Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave , Tom de Freston, Yellow, Shark, Mental Health, Bullying, Island, Cat, Friendship, Children's Book, Nature,“The bed was a boat,
the shark a tide,
an it pulled me so far out to sea
I was only a speck, a spot, a mote,
a dying star in an unending sky.”

I loved that little remote island. With a tiny village. Loved seeing what the parents were going to be doing. Loved Noodles who was just the cutest little thing and I loved how she followed the family around everywhere. Loved that little library, so proud of this village for not giving up. Man, I wish I had a lot of money, I would donate that to little libraries everywhere. I loved the little sea and star facts that we got as the story continued. I loved that the title of the book popped up later in the book (always a big plus). Love love the cover. Love that there are little see-through pages with something drawn on them so the picture or text on the next page looks extra special.

I loved the addition of poems! I wasn’t expecting them, but I can say I found myself looking forward to them as soon as I found out they came around more often.

The mental health, on the one hand, beautifully written. I know someone with bipolar so I recognised the signs of what the mom had quite early in the book. How she was over the moon happy and then the next moment so down in the dumps that she was practically living in a deep well. We could see all the swings. See the way she reacted to things. See how things escalated with each week. Each time they were there longer. Read that this wasn’t the first episode in her life. That she had others. However, while it was well-written I wasn’t too happy with how the parents handled that in regards to Julia. The dad did try to explain things to Julia, but for most Julia just felt like she was doing things badly. Like she had to work harder. Like she had to compensate and just do better. And my heart broke for this girl and I just wished that the parents, and then especially dad as he knew what was up, had just gotten help sooner. Before it all went so horribly wrong. Before Julia made a big mistake. A mistake she wouldn’t have made if she hadn’t been left alone without much explanation. A mistake that wouldn’t have happened if everyone just had talked.

But I am deducing 1 star in total because of these two points:

  1. The bullying and how that is handled. We have a bully in our midst in this town and he has been after Kin for years now. Being aggressive, making names, doing other shitty things. Now Julia is here and he has found a new target along with Kin. But Julia isn’t like Kin. Julia speaks up. And yes, what she said was mean, but was it needed? Yes. Clearly. I was rooting for this girl. To speak up. I would have done the same thing. But what happens next shocked me, or actually given how books are these days maybe not that much shock, Kin turns his back on Julia because HOW DARE SHE SPEAK UP against a bully in such a mean boohoo fashion, doesn’t she know that Adrian lost his mommy and daddy. Cue to home where Julia gets even more punishment and even has to write A FUCKING letter of APOLOGY to that boy. WTF. Seriously, what is up with books these days? I have been bullied relentlessly for years, and reading that one has to feel sorry for those poor little fucking bullies because OMG OMG they are so so so sad, they cannot help it, they had a sad past, you should feel sorry for them and HELP them. NO, just fuck off. I have been bullied to the point of almost committing suicide (and I will keep it at that) and I am still mentally scarred and not mentally OK thanks to those years of bullying. Now I am constantly reading in books how sad bullies are and I can tell you, I feel shit. Like as a person who has been bullied I am the bad one. I should just have given those horrible people a hug and everything would have been OK! *rolls eyes*
  2. Kin and Julia’s friendship. Well, at times I saw the sparks of a friendship. How he hugged her when things got a bit dark. How they both watched stars and shared bits of information, she about the sea and he about the star. How they chatted. But then Julia would just do one little thing, often out of not knowing or just because she wanted to help, and BOOM Kin just shut her off for days. Not talking to her, being huffy and all that. I am sorry, but that is a big nope for me in a friendship.

The ending. On the one hand I thought it fitted with the book, but on the other hand I was also scratching my head so much. I mean, hello, how did no one notice that a little girl was out there all alone? How did that guy on the radio not hear that he had a kid on the other end. How did she even know how to use all the things? It is not like her mom took her out. It just reminded me of another book about a polar bear (which I DNF-ed but I did check the ending).

The illustrations were gorgeous though, I loved the style and I loved that the colours were all yellow, grey, black, white.

All in all, despite some issues, I was mesmerised by this book. It was a gorgeous and heartbreaking book. I am happy I picked it up at my library.

Star rating, 3.5 stars

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