Shortlisted book reviews.

The Thing About Oliver

by Deborah Kelly



Sometimes I feel just like the glass in my fish tank, people look right through me. Twelve-year-old Tilly dreams of becoming a marine scientist, but she doesn't even own a swimsuit. She lives in a drought-stricken town with her mum and younger brother Oliver, who is autistic. Oliver's meltdowns are making life unbearable. He needs so many different kinds of therapy that there's never any time or money left over for swimming lessons.

Tilly knows Oliver’s needs have to come first, but it's hard feeling invisible all the time. When Mum announces they are moving to the Queensland coast, Tilly is excited at the thought of finally learning to swim, even snorkel! But she is also worried. The thing about Oliver is, he can't cope with even the tiniest of changes to his routine. It isn't long before the cracks begin to show. Could so many changes all at once threaten to shatter the whole family?


This is a very touching and moving story of twelve-year-old Tilly, whose younger brother Oliver has autism.Tilly is trying to do all she can to help her Mum, as Oliver is getting increasingly difficult and it’s hard for all of them. But Tilly has needs too, and she is feeling more and more invisible.


So when her Mum says that they are moving to Queensland, Tilly is both excited and nervous. The change may finally allow her to follow her dream of one day becoming a marine scientist, but Tilly knows that change and Oliver don’t go well together.


This is a wonderful story about a family trying to do their best in their situation. Tilly shows wisdom, understanding and compassion well beyond her years, but she also shows us that  frustration, anger and resentment can be natural reactions when confronted with a difficult situation, but with help, time and love, anything is possible.


This book will be enjoyed by readers aged 8+.