Monday, 26 March 2012
Title: One Long Thread
Author: Belinda Jeffrey
Published: 22 Feb 2012
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: publisher
Rating: 4  paws

From the blurb: "I had moths in my chest. A thousand of them drumming with their insistent wings, thumping inside my heart. It was the feeling of something struggling to get out, to fly free... Love is like that". 
When divorce rips Ruby Moon's family apart and tragedy traps her twin, Sally in a cocoon from which she might never escape, Ruby learns that love is never simple.

One Long Thread by Belinda Jeffrey is set in Melbourne, Darwin and Tonga. Ruby Moon is thirteen and lives in Melbourne with her twin sister, Sally, and their parents. The book opens with a story about Ruby's grandmother, Pearl, and how when she became pregnant as a teenager and was forced to leave home. She later gave birth to Ruby's mother and supported her on on her own. Ruby's mother, Jan, no longer seems to have much contact with her own mother and her childhood has shaped the way she views motherhood and her twin daughters.

Jan has a list of rules that the girls must learn which includes never talking about 'that time of the month', never resting if the house is not clean, never wearing red lipstick, staying away from boys and marrying for life. She seems to have such a strong opinion of the colour red that she refuses to use Ruby's name, choosing to call her by her childhood nickname, Button, instead. Ruby can't remember a time when their Sundays didn't involve going to church with their mother. Jan would take Ruby and Sally along and they would be forced to sit and listen but their father, Brett, never came along. This is one of the many differences between her parents

Jan hears about a new breakaway group of her church, the Aberdeen, that is setting up in Darwin. Following this news their mother begins to spend more and more time each day devoted to prayers and starts leaving hand written notes around the house with quotes from the Bible. Her parents begin to fight daily and decide to separate. Jan takes Sally and moves to Darwin to being working with the church and Ruby stays with their dad in their family home.

Ruby does visit her mother and Sally a couple of time and doesn't like what she finds in Darwin. Sally has found a way to still go out and have fun while fooling her mother into thinking that she's adopted the Aberdeen way of living. During one visit, Ruby meets Barry, a guy that Sally knows and has been involved with and finds she has an instant connection with him, which she finds odd as she's never been interested in boys up until this point, always thinking she'd marry when she was much older.

I hadn't heard of this book before I was offered this review but I was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the idea of a family and a young girl discovering what love really is. Ruby is such a lovely character, I really felt for her throughout the book. She's always felt like Sally is the braver and bolder twin and in comparison she's quite plain and unadventurous. Ruby loves to sew and has created dresses for Sally to wear. She learnt to sew from her mother but unlike her, she choose to sew without using a pattern, another thing her mother found disappointing. She has a small group of friends at school but doesn't always feel that she can share her personal issues with them and she has a part-time job at a fabric store which she loves.

We didn't get to know Sally as well as Ruby but she too seemed like a great girl, just a bit louder and more extroverted than Ruby. Jan was a such a disappointment as their mother. She was cold and I felt quite cruel, I can't imagine anyone thinking it would be a good idea to separate twin siblings, it seems so unfair to me but at the same time, I was happy that Ruby didn't get dragged along to Aberdeen, which turned out to have a cult-mentality. Ruby's father, I'm happy to say, was a fantastic parent and I'm so glad she had him but sad that Sally missed out on staying with him. He and Ruby spent lots of time together, watching old musicals and going out for dinner whenever they felt sad at being abandoned and his new girlfriend was another good role model for Ruby and a great support for them both.

It's obvious from the blurb that something happens to Sally but I won't go into details here. After Ruby finds out, she ends up hopping on a flight to Tonga to visit Pearl who lives in a small village, raising silk worms. Ruby arrives on Pearl's doorstep completely distraught but Pearl doesn't ask questions, she just looks after her and Ruby spends a few days with her, helping her tend to the worms before returning home. The time spent in Tonga was a lot of fun to read, I've never been but I imagine it's a lot like New Caledonia and the scenery sounded absolutely beautiful and peaceful.

The moth and silk worm theme is continued throughout the book, from the title and the gorgeous cover which has a matte finish and looks like a piece of red fabric covered in stitches and moths to Ruby's love of fabric and dress making right through to Pearl's silk worm farm. I was uncomfortable with the silk worms as I knew what was going to happen to them but I was pleased that Belinda touched on this aspect too. Ruby returns to Tonga later in the book to spend time with Pearl and witness the end of the silk worm cycle. When the time comes, she is clearly not happy with the idea of having to kill the worms by putting them and their cocoons into boiling water. She knows it has to be done to produce silk but she feels that the whole process seems cruel and unusual. She'd fed and cared for the worms only to kill them before they get a chance to emerge from their cocoons and fly free. This is how I feel about the entire farming/animal industry so I was thrilled to see it mentioned in a book and actually have a character think about it.

I was happy that Ruby got a chance to re-connect with Barry towards the end of the book and even though it was a case of her falling in love with him instantly, it didn't feel forced and it definitely wasn't the focus of the book. It was a really awkward situation for them but I think they made the best of it.

One Long Thread is a beautifully written story about a girl, her family and her first love. I found it very bittersweet and it's a story that will definitely stick with me. I would recommend this to all contemporary YA fans and I am really keen to read more of Belinda's work.

My copy of One Long Thread was sent to me by the fantastic people at the University of Queensland Press.

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading and Reviewing Challenge.


BookStacksOnDeck said...

Great review! I had to add this to my Goodreads TBR list - sounds like a great story! :D

YA Anonymous said...

I love that cover! I'm intrigued by your review Mandee. I might have to check this out! :) --Noelle

Amanda @ Letters Inside Out said...

WANT! When I saw it on your IMM awhile back I was intrigued, now after reading your review I have to have this book.

Following you is going to cause me to have to purchase more and more books from Australia. ;)

Thanks for the review!

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

This review definitely drew me in, that quote at the beginning that describes love with the moths and states that love isn't easy. Wow the mother definitely has some issues. This is another I hope I can pick up! As always adorable cat picture!

Sam said...

I've been waiting to hear your thought on this after seeing you mention it once (in an IMM post, I think?). Brilliant review! It sounds like a wonderful read and I'm glad to hear you reckon this is a story that will say with you. I must check this out now. :)

Jasprit said...

This sounds like an awesome book, the cover is gorgeous too! thanks for bringing this book to my attention, another contemporary YA I shall be adding to my already out of control pile! :)

jowearsoldcoats said...

Oooh, this one looks great!
I've never heard of this one before!
And yes, that cover is gorgeous!

Sarah (saz101) said...

You know, I don't mind 'instalove' if it feels authentic. We all know how earth-shattering first crushes and kisses and love can be. It happens fast, and it happens hard... but I think the reason we don't like it is lack of authenticity. SO glad it worked here.

OK, this sounds AMAZING... LOVE that it's Australian, and, um... GORGEOUS cover.

Mandee said...

This book is really lovely, I hope you all enjoy it too!

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