Wednesday, February 2, 2022

If Not Us by Mark Smith

 If Not Us by Mark Smith

Published September 2021 Text Publishing


Hesse lives a small coastal town, where a coalmine and power station are a part of the scenery, and a part of the ever-growing problem of climate change. His mum is a member of a local environmental group campaigning to close the mine and shut down the power station. It’s a no-brainer, of course, but Hesse is more interested in surfing—and in Fenna, the new exchange student from the Netherlands.

But when someone seems to be trying to derail the campaign, and his friends’ families face losing their jobs, Hesse begins to realise that things are complex.

Even though he’s reluctant to step into the spotlight, with Fenna’s encouragement he decides it’s time to make a stand. Because some things are too important to leave to everyone else. And even one small, nervous voice can make a difference.

When Hesse agrees to speak at a protest meeting he has no idea of the storm he is about to unleash.

I am always on the lookout for YA titles with strong male characters, and I am happy to say that I found one with this book.

Hesse is a teenager who lives in a small town, where in the background, a mine and Power Station have always been there in the background...employing a large number of people from the town.  When he starts to question the environmental impact of these industries, he feels he needs to use his voice and speak up for what he believes is the right thing.

This would be a great book to look at in schools, as it encourages discussion about climate change, environmental issues and values.  Is it right to close down an industry that is causing damage to the environment, knowing that people will lose their jobs and  the whole town may suffer the consequences?  What is more important?  The planet and our health? Or industry, jobs and the livelihoods of those who work in the town?

It's not all environmental issues and protests, there's friendship, family and romance as well, so it makes for a very well rounded read.

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