When the Mountains Roared
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Amy chose this book for me in my May TBR, and I am so glad she did because I loved this book and devoured it in one sitting. Meeting Ruby at the beginning, she’s very much a different girl to how she started. She was subdued: a shadow of herself, pulled from pillar to post and fearing the utmost worst of every situation. However by the end of WtMR, she has begun to overcome her deepest fears and developed into someone who’s mother’s steely determination and spirit lives on within her. The story as a whole was quite sweet, and had an important lesson about facing fears and standing up for what you believe in. However, I found the writing quite jerky and stuttering, and I wish there'd been more character development. At times it also felt like everything was tied up a bit too conveniently.
Jess’ books are fast becoming favourites for many and she is ensuring that she is seen as a stand-out talent with her incredibly original style of writing. Culturally enriching, she really imbues her story writing with her own life experiences as somebody who’s been brought up in the UK but is still very much rooted in the Himalayas as well. I really gain the sense that writing a book – particularly this one – for Jess is increasingly more than just writing a book. Not only is it a way of highlighting a vitally important issue or a message but it is also about reliving the magic of moments that have become memories, of which I think your grandmother would be immensely proud, Jess. When Ruby's dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India, Ruby is devastated. Not only are they living in a run-down building in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home - not without her mum there. The prose is tight. The pacing is impeccable. The descriptions are vivid without being lengthy. Here's an excerpt: Ruby and her family soon settle into life on the mountain; Ruby meets Parveen, a local boy and the pair form an instant friendship. He is a sweet boy and he cares for animals as much as Ruby does. But Ruby’s new life is not not all plain sailing. The locals have stories about the mountain and they believe that some of the unpleasant events occurring in their village are the wrath of the Goddess Durga because there are people living on the mountain again. Parveen introduces Ruby to some of the local customs and helps her to build a shrine to the Goddess to help. They do face some disagreements in their friendship and it was interesting to see how they approached and worked through these. Ruby’s grandmother also joins her on her trip. I adored Ruby’s grandmother, she made me laugh a lot, and early in the story she smuggles a joey kangaroo onto the ship taking them to India, causing much hilarity. It’s a relief when they all arrive safely:Education Shed Ltd, Severn House, Severn Bridge, Riverside North, Bewdley, Worcestershire, UK, DY12 1AB Jess has blended so many different emotions into Ruby’s characterisation — grief, loss and wonder. Ruby is forced to navigate this new life, whilst also learning how to let go of her old life. She has to understand that she can enjoy life without her mother being in it, and even though life will never be the same again, that doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyable and full of wondrous experiences.
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Catherine Lang is a teacher at Wellsprings Primary School in Taunton. She writes a book-review blog, wellsprings.edublogs.org, and tweets @ClassBookCorner Ruby knows there is something wrong as soon as she gets home one night. But she never imagined the changes that are about to happen in her life. The whole book was an emotional adventure - I couldn’t put the book down. I was really happy that, with all the things they left behind in Australia, they kept the snakeskin. Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. I see that his face is now drawn and worried. And I realise that’s the problem. I don’t trust him. No matter how hard I try, after everything that happened in Australia with the moneylenders, there’s still a part of me that doesn’t. A big part.”