Red | Libby Gleeson

Cyclone wipes out all the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Hundreds dead; even more missing and injured!

This is the horrific news headline that would best describe Libby Gleeson’s latest novel for young teens, Red.

After an unprecedented natural disaster Red wakes up covered in mud and scratches unable to remember who she is and what happened. She is unearthed by Peri who calls her ‘Red’ because of the colour of her shirt. The first words out of her mouth are, “jaymartinjaymartinjaymartin”.

What follows is a suspenseful adventure (which occasionally teeters on the edges of believablility) through the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne as Red tries to regain her memory and find her father.

I had issues with plausibility throughout the story, but it was fast-paced and snappy enough to give me little time to ponder these flaws too closely.

Recommended for 11+ readers 

A gripping mystery unfolds in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone that leaves a young girl unable to remember her name or where she comes from

Mud. In her mouth, her nose and her eyes. Mud in her hair and caked on her neck and her arms. Mud filling her shoes and seeping through the thin cotton weave of her trousers. She lay sprawled on her side, a garbled, barely distinct sound coming from her: jaymartinjaymartin. Her world was mud and pain.

What’s your name?’ A boy was sitting on a kitchen table floating in a muddy pool. At his feet was a child’s doll, the head lolling to one side.

Red can’t remember the cyclone. She can’t remember anything—her name, where she lived, or who her family might be. Her identity has been ripped away. Then she makes a discovery, and finds she has an important mission to accomplish. But in this chaotic, bewildering world, can she do it on her own? Who can she trust?

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