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This Brave Balance Paperback – 24 May 2011
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About the Author
Rusalka Reh was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1970 and grew up in Germany. She studied special education, rehabilitation, and art therapy in Cologne. She began her career as a scientific assistant at the university’s fine arts seminar and later worked as an art therapist in municipal children’s homes. Since 2000, she has been working as a freelance author, writing poetry and prose. In addition to several books for children and adults, she has published several texts in anthologies and magazines.
Katy Derbyshire is a London-born translator based in Berlin. She has translated various contemporary German writers including Clemens Meyer, Inka Parei, and Helene Hegemann. She also co-edited a book of writing on her new home, City-Lit Berlin.
Top customer reviews
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I chose this from amazon vine for my 15 year old daughter but as she had many other books un-read, I thought I'd have a look first.
Set in Leipzig, it is a short novel told in the first person by Dipper a "traceur" (free runner / parkour-ist) about himself and his motley crew of bird named friends: Skylark, Jay, Corone (nope, me neither), Kite and Corone's younger sister the charmingly named Kittiwake. In their mid to late teens they are going through the usual problems of teens worldwide - girls and parents etc but no drink or drugs surprisingly. Dipper comes across as a pretty grounded dare I say "balanced" person, easy to spend time with as he runs across town practising his moves with the Planetbirds. The harmony is upset however when the taciturn and secretive Corone splits with his girlfriend, Kite, who confides in the confused young Dipper as to Corone's dark moods whilst Kittiwake is left alone with Jay's aloof father.
So far so good, this is a well written book with a good set of different and likeable characters - everyday young adults in this case channelling their energy into something positive and creative. It captures the angst, emotions, rivalries and jealousies of the gang very well and you don't need to be a traceur/traceuse to enjoy it but a handy glossary at the back explains all the moves for you should you care to look.
However, late on it throws the mother of all curve balls when it is discovered that Jay's father is a paedophile who had been having sex with Corone's sister. Thankfully it is not too explicit but still, it hardly seems appropriate material for the average 12-16 year old and I'm glad I read the book first and won't be passing it back to my daughter. Child abuse sadly does and will happen but the statutory rape of a 10 year old with learning difficulties is hardly the stuff of teen literature. I can't believe it was not mentioned or even hinted in the description anywhere and I am seriously disappointed with amazon about it.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I'm not normally a fan of slice-of-life, but since my son is an avid traceur, I had to at least try this. Although it was slow in places, Reh skillfully wove several storylines through descriptions of the parkour training, and kept me wanting to know what would happen next in spite of some heavy-handed "if I had only known" foreshadowing, which I despise. The characters felt real and faced real problems, and Reh even managed to avoid a pat ending. Kindle formatting was fine.
I really enjoyed reading the book, even though I know very little about parkour. The story did teach me a little bit more about it, without it detracting from the plot at all. The story was engrossing and very realistic. Because of the translation, the narrative could was a little awkward at times, but I didn't think it was a major problem. I thought the ending, which was literally a cliffhanger, was wrapped up a little too quickly. I wanted to find out more about his new lady friend and if he liked her more than Miss Kite. But otherwise I liked the book very much, and would recommend it for teens and even so-called 'adults', like me. :)