What to Read After… Look Up! 20/09/21
Publisher: Em. Querido Kinderboeken Uitgeverij
An epileptic boy, an insecure girl, and the dog that brings them together – witty and wry with echoes of John Green.
Sven knows he must do something brilliant on the first day of a new school year or he'll be the epileptic kid that everyone feels sorry for. So he targets Parker, a girl who just wants to be invisible after surviving the worst summer of her life. Parker is quick to form a rivalry, and when she sees Alaska, the dog she used to own, is now Sven's assistance dog, she decides to kidnap Alaska. But in the dead of night, masked in a Balaclava, Parker ends up in Sven's room, and they begin to confide in each other. Although Sven doesn't know who she really is, Parker soon tells him about losing Alaska due to her brother's allergy, and about the armed robbery at her parent's shop. When Sven has a seizure at school, it's filmed and cruelly shared. Despite their differences, Parker gets everyone else to post embarrassing videos of themselves to make him feel better. Later in town, Parker spots the robber. Sven and Alaska race to help but Sven has an attack and needs Alaska's help. By the end, Parker's dad works out how to find the gunman, and Parker and Sven are more hopeful about life. Written in alternating chapters between Sven and Parker's view.
Here's what our judges had to say:
"From the start Alaska caught me with its uncliched voices. It has two strikingly engaging young protagonists: the boy determined to be known for something other than his epilepsy and the outsider girl in mourning for her lost dog. Original in both the prose and the characterisation, this friendship drama and mystery story is a cut above." – Nicolette Jones
"Alaska's strong characters and intriguing plot are powerful hooks into this heartfelt story. With excellent pace and genuine feel, we're all looking forward to reading further." – Florentyna Martin
"Parker and Sven can't stand each other but I loved them both from the very first page. Feisty and believable, both vulnerable in different ways, they are linked together by Alaska, Parker's beloved dog who, she discovers, now belongs to Sven. Themes of friendship, loneliness, damage and privacy are woven into a tense story with characters that jump of the page, this will be an unmissable debut in the UK." – Jill Coleman
"From the very first pages you are invested in the main characters. Big issues are dealt with in a sensitive accessible way and the story moves at a terrific pace. Highly recommended." –Simon Key