Author(s): Tina Shaw
This alternate history coming-of-age YA is the Winner of the 2018 Storylines Tessa Duder Award.
“An inferior people, that’s what the Director called us at the beginning of his reign, but still useful.”
There are two peoples living in the city of Ursa: the Cerels and the Travesters. Travesters move freely and enjoy a fine quality of life. Cerel men are kept in wild camps and the women are no longer allowed to have children. The Director presides over all with an iron fist.
Fifteen-year-old Leho can’t remember a time when Cerels lived without fear in Ursa. His parents once tried to organise an uprising – his mother was blinded, and his father was taken away. But now his world is changing. Revolution is coming. People will die. Will Leho be able to save his family?
Last year's winner of the StorylinesTessa Duder award, Ursa by Tina Shaw is a captivating novel about totalitarianism. Set in a Berlin-like city sometime in the future, it is narrated by 15-year-old Leho whose family is Cerel - the underclass. The city is ruled by the Travesters who are wealthy and powerful and led by ‘the Director’. Leho and his family are always hungry and wary of danger. Cerel children are not allowed to go to school so Leho spends his days stealthily roaming the streets, finding extra food and observing the workings of the city. He also makes friends with a Travester girl who, previously unaware of the injustices, starts to learn the hard truths about her city and its leader. The characters in this story pull you in. All are real and believable. Although Leho and his family are suffering, they are tight-knit and loyal and it’s the strength they get from each other that keeps them going. Both he and his older brother in their own ways come to the decision that something must be done to stop the tyranny of the travesters, but how? and is there any hope of success?. Recommended for children 11- 16 years. Reviewed by Helen
Tina Shaw is a novelist, short story writer and editor, and has written for both adults and children. She has received many awards including the Berlin author residency.
Her first novel Birdie was widely praised. She has also self-published City of Reeds, Dreams of America, edited A Passion for Travel, and later wrote The Black Madonna, Paradise and Fluff Helps Out. Some of her titles have been published in Pearson's Nitty Gritty and Mainsails series aimed to encourage reading. About Griffen's Heart was a Storylines Notable book and a LIANZA shortlisted title in 2010. The Children's Pond was shortlisted for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.