The Year The Maps Changed

This is such a lovely book! Danielle Binks' debut is an accomplished middle grade novel set in Sorrento (a town I know well) on the Mornington Peninsula in 1999, the year that Kosovan refugees were brought to the old quarantine station at Portsea for 'safe haven,' told through the eyes of eleven year old Fred.

The obvious reference for the maps changing thus applies to the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the terrible conflict in Kosovo. But it also applies in a deeply personal way for Fred herself. Her mother has died and her step-father Luka, a policeman, has re-partnered with Anika, bringing Fred an unexpected younger brother in the form of ten year old Sam. And then Luka and Anika announce that they are having a baby. Where does that leave Fred? Is she still part of their family?

The arrival of the refugees unsettles the whole town, even though they are kept far down the road at Portsea, but as Fred finds herself drawn to the strangers, she finds herself reassessing what really matters.

This is a beautiful story about belonging and welcome, about fear and suspicion, and ultimately about the elastic bonds of family and love. The Year the Maps Changed has had rave reviews everywhere, and deservedly so. This is a terrific book.

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