The Blooming Of Alison Brennan

Sixteen-year-old Alison Brennan appears to be like every other kid in school, but her life is far from a normal one. Her mother was diagnosed with agoraphobia when she was much younger. She is also a hoarder who never throws anything away. As a result, their house is full of all sorts of rubbish, making the place almost unlivable, and there’s barely any room for Alison to study. Sadly, her father seems too weak to help. Hence, Alison decides to speak to the school counselor.

What follows are events that Alison never imagined would happen. Even though Alison knew her maternal grandfather and uncle, she didn’t know anything about her father’s past or relatives. However, that is about to change. The revelation begins when an old, homeless man is found dead in a park in Melbourne. Who could this man be, and does his death have anything to do with Alison? Above all, can Alison rise above the challenges in her family and get a shot at carving out a future for herself? Find out when you read The Blooming of Alison Brennan by Kath Engebretson.

What a wonderful reading experience I’ve had with this one! I am happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Kath deserves every praise I shower on her for her exceptional work with this title. You may not be able to relate to her narrations if you have a perfect family. But come to think of it, who really does? From fathers who assume their children must follow the paths they designed for them to our mentally ill parents or siblings we love but don’t want others to know about, Kath expertly portrays the imperfections in most families.

What I like most about this book is the author’s use of alternating first-person points of view. This style helped me understand the characters better while appreciating their distinct traits and the different ways they responded to the same situation. I loved how the author avoided repetitions that could have occurred from using the style but used it to clarify and provide more information in her narrations. Good job, Kath!

Furthermore, the characterization is praiseworthy. Kath succeeded in creating lifelike and distinct characters that readers wouldn’t forget in a hurry. The characters are easy to empathize with, as they have weaknesses, strengths, and unique traits like real people. I enjoyed how the author provided their background stories through their dialogues without overwhelming the reader. There are many characters to love in the novel, but Alison is my favorite. Her resilience is worth emulating, and I admire her brilliant mind.

Another aspect of this book that is commendable is that it is full of life lessons. Its themes of forgiveness, family life, resilience, redemption, and friendship provide moral lessons that are thought-provoking. I learned that circumstances could bring even the mighty down, so it’s best to empathize with anyone going through a difficult time. Also, parenting is more than just providing the physical resources your children need. Are you also emotionally available?

There’s nothing I dislike about this novel, and I am glad to rate it a well-deserved four out of four stars. The storyline is intriguing, and the end, though touching, is satisfying. The book is also professionally edited, and I found only one typo in it. Therefore, I highly recommend it to teenagers and adults interested in enjoying a well-written, fictionalized story with a strong, female protagonist fighting to shape her future and rise above the issues in her family. I will also be on the lookout for other titles by this author, as she has captured my heart with this publication.

Published in November 2021
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A family full of secrets…and one girl who must survive.

Nineteen Days Book Cover

As the Australis Star cruises for nineteen days from Sydney to Honolulu the lives of five of her passengers are changed forever…

Nineteen Days Book Cover

Nineteen Days

Genevieve hates cruises. All that lounging around quaffing cocktails and too much food. But Peter, her husband, bought this one for her after the worst year of her life, and she couldn’t tell him she didn’t want to go. They are both still traumatised after an unimaginable family tragedy, and each of them has gone into hiding behind small talk and silence.

A cruise is also the last place Genevieve could imagine making a friend, but in Thomas, a morbidly obese man who inhabits a patch of shade on the deck, she meets someone she can talk to.  Thomas himself has an odd past. He is a refugee from the ministry of an oppressive quasi-Christian cult, an experience that poisoned the only relationship he cared about. 

In their gentle friendship a kind of healing takes place, until Peter drops a bombshell. By the end of the cruise, all their lives have changed. 

A story about strange and unexpected friendships, about the facades that people wear, and about what happens when they break. Most of all it is a story about how love manages to seep through the cracks.   

Published by Atlas Productions in August 2020
Read reviews of Nineteen Days in Goodreads. Click Here

Sonia Bellhouse interviews Kath Engebretson about her book Nineteen Days. Click Here

Red Dirt Odyssey Book Cover

Red Dirt Odyssey

The campervan sits in the driveway, waiting for Alice-a jaded academic- and her husband Will to retire and hit the road…any day now.

But when Will suddenly dies, Alice is lost. Unhappy at work, and with her future plans thwarted, she rises daily, putting one foot in front of the other, existing not living.

 Until one day she climbs into the campervan and decides to go it alone. Escaping from her city life, she heads across the Nullabor, taking work as a shearers’ cook and meeting a colorful cast of characters who will change the way she views the world.

Red Dirt Odyssey is a reminder that life can change in a moment, but when one door closes another opens. A story of contemporary Australian life explored, loss and loneliness, friendship and renewal, risk and adventure, set against the dramatic landscapes of outback and coastal Australia.

Published by Atlas Productions in 2016

Red Dirt Odyssey Book Cover