Published by Penguin Australia on February 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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From the Prime Minister's Literary Award winning author, Robert Newton comes a novel full of heart, warmth and friendship.
A violent incident sparks an unlikely and surprising friendship between a young girl and an old man, leading to an adventure that brings both drama and understanding to their lives in contemporary Melbourne.
Mr Romanov's Garden in the Sky is a delightful and compelling tale with a strong sense of contemporary multicultural Australia and a vivid cast of characters.
A new Aussie YA release, Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky is a heartwarming and hopeful story of friendship and self-development. It’s a short book that is appropriate for younger readers as well as older readers and is one of the most touching stories that I’ve read so far this year.
The story begins on Lexie’s 13th birthday when she meets the old man in her commission building, nicknamed ‘the Creeper’. She spots him on the top of the building, about to commit suicide and she saves him and gets to know him. She discovers that his name is Sergei Romanov and quickly worms her way into his life by offering to clean his messy apartment and help with his ‘garden in the sky’. She enlists the help of her friend, Davey, and together the three of them form and unlikely friendship, which takes them on a journey from Melbourne to Surfers Paradise in Queensland. Along the way, they tackle their own personal demons and deal with problems with the help of each other, and I found the whole story to be extremely heartwarming and just what I needed from it.
The characterisation in this novel was perfection. All of the characters in the book are troubled in some way. Lexie struggles with her mother’s addiction to drugs, which came about after her father’s tragic car accident a year ago. She struggles with living with a parent who doesn’t seem to care about her well-being and she also struggles with the loss of a parent who may or may not have committed suicide and left her alone. Davey is dealing with is own feelings of abandonment, with his father in maximum-security prison. And finally, Mr Romanov is dealing with medical issues and the feeling that everything good in life is gone. When the three form a friendship and go on a road trip together, they discover that their road trip is helping them to deal with the issues that they’ve been struggling with and that the bond between them have saved the each of them. I absolutely adored all three of the main characters, but I definitely had a soft spot for Davey, who was incredibly smart and spouted trivia at every opportunity. I also really enjoyed reading about Mr Romanov and how his past experiences have shaped him into the person he is now. And of course, I loved Lexie who was fearless but also had insecurities that a lot of other teenage girls have.
I thought all of the themes in this book were explored really well, despite the short length of the book. It was done in a really hopeful way that didn’t leave me feeling heavy and this makes it appropriate for younger readers in my opinion. There were some things that could have been explored a little bit further but I thought the story was done in a way that did the topics justice.
Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky is a wonderful new Australian release that handles heavy topics like suicide and drug addiction extremely well. It was a touching and heartfelt book that explored the healing power of friendship in the most beautiful way.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5