Friday, October 28, 2011

C. K. Kelly Martin

C. K. Kelly Martin's books include I Know It's Over, One Lonely Degree, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, and My Beating Teenage Heart.

A few weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m very happy to have the chance to talk about what I’ve been reading lately because for the last several months I’ve been weaving in and out of Australian author John Marsden’s outstanding young adult series that began with Tomorrow When the War Began. Since the seven books that compose the series were all released between 1993 and 1999 I’m not sure if they’re too recent to be regarded as classics but they certainly feel that way. They have a timeless quality that, I think, will make them still feel relevant in another forty years. I also believe adult readers would enjoy the series just as much as teen ones because Marsden doesn’t pull his punches. There’s some really tough stuff in these books. They’re not graphic but they’re extremely realistic and suspenseful yet emotionally nuanced too. That’s a pretty rare combination.

Anyway, I’ve been reading other books (some other YA ones and literary fiction) in between the Tomorrow novels but when I do I’m always looking forward to jumping back to Marsden’s series. Essentially the books centre on a group of teenagers who are camping away from home in the bush when Australia is invaded by a foreign army. Central character Ellie and her friends (Homer, Lee, Kevin, Corrie, Robyn and Fiona) are left to survive and battle the invaders on their own. The story’s not told in a way that glorifies war, nor does it portray the young characters as action heroes. They’re courageous and intelligent but they don’t succeed at everything they try to achieve and emotionally they burn out, at different rates and in different ways, only to realize they need to keep fighting anyway. The ones that survive, that is.

At the moment I’m about two-thirds of the way through the sixth novel, The Night is for Hunting. Each of the books is told from Ellie’s point of view. She’s made of tough materials but she’s by no means invincible. At times she seems emotionally distant to the other members of the group, even as they look to her as a leader. But she’s fiercely protective of her friends, even when she’s angry with them. The emotional veracity of each of the books makes it clear that even if there’s a victory at the end of book seven and the invaders are forced to abandon Australia, this band of young people will never be the same. Part of the war they’re fighting is to retain integral parts of their personalities.

YA writer Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson was the one who originally recommended the Tomorrow books to me and I’m so glad that she did. I’ll be sorry to come to the end of the series.
Visit C. K. Kelly Martin's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Lighter Side of Life and Death.

My Book, The Movie: My Beating Teenage Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue