Title: August and Jones
Author: Pip Harry
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: 29th June 2022
Synopsis: From the CBCA Award-winning author of The Little Wave comes the story of two extraordinary kids who discover the life-changing power of friendship and teamwork.
Eleven-year-old Jones Kirby has just moved to Sydney from her farm in country New South Wales. She’s missing her alpacas and wide-open paddocks and can’t get used to her family’s tiny city apartment. She’s also worried that her vision is blurry – she lost her eye to cancer as a toddler. Could it be another tumour?
Enrolling at her new school, Jones meets shy, awkward August Genting. He loves fun facts, the library and knitting as much as Jones loves rock climbing and being outdoors. Who would have thought they’d become fast friends?
At home, August’s parents are fighting. And for Jones, the news from the doctor is not good. To cheer themselves up, the pair hatch a brilliant plan: the August and Jones Must-See Bucket List. Together, this brave duo will set out to meet a rare monkey, run across the Harbour Bridge and even climb Australia’s highest mountain.
After all, with your best friend beside you, anything is possible!
Jones Kirby and her family have had to sell their family farm and move to the city, and Jones misses everything about the farm. As a toddler, Jones lost one of her eyes to cancer, and now she’s worried about her other eye, because she keeps getting blurred vision. When she arrives at her new school, she meets August, whose father has forced him into football, yet August would rather be reading or knitting, and Jones loves the outdoors – yet the two become fast friends when August is assigned to be her buddy, and they find ways of doing what each other enjoys. When Jones finds out her life is going to change again, she makes a must-see bucket list with August, and they set out to see musicals, a rare monkey, run across the Harbour Bridge and climb the highest mountain in Australia in a beautiful celebration of friendship.
August and Jones is a beautiful novel that shows that friendship can come from all sorts of places, and the magic comes from finding a common interest as well as accepting people for who they are and enjoying doing different things together like August and Jones. I loved the way they accepted each other and gave each other the strength to be themselves and stand up for what they wanted. It allowed each character to be themselves whilst still grappling with the pressures they are under with their health and at home. For August, telling his father he doesn’t want to play football is hard, as is the fracturing of his family. But it is Jones who helps him through this, just as he helps her when she gets sick again.
I loved the way August was just there for Jones, and helped her advocate for her accessibility. It allowed Jones and her family to say what they needed but also gave August a chance to learn about disability rights and add his voice to help Jones – combined, they were very powerful, and I can see that beyond the book, they will be inseparable and always be there for each other to help with anything. August helped Jones with the things she needed his help with, and his concern for her was something that made sense – even though he knew she’d been through this before, he was still scared for her and didn’t want to lose his first best friend ever. I loved both of them and the way they were with each other and as people. It made the novel uplifting and realistic as August gained an understanding of himself and his new friend.
I found this a beautiful story and appreciated Pip’s efforts to research things like MRIs and what Jones would have gone through when having one. It is a small scene but am accurate sense of what it is like to being inside one of the machines. Pip’s story delightfully allows her characters to be themselves, and I loved that they were allowed to be scared, allowed to express themselves, and the growth that the child and adult characters had was good as well. It showed that we all have things to learn regardless of age and the stage of life we are at – there are always people that can teach us something. And I loved the way everyone came through to support Jones to help her get to accessibility she needed – it was wonderful to see the recognition of this, but also, I loved that Jones was able to be herself and still do what she wanted, even though she had to make adaptations, she didn’t have to stop doing the things she loved.
At the end of it all, this was a wonderfully heart-warming story about friendship, and what it means to find that one person who will stick by you and do all they can to support you and be there for you. That you can share everything with and be yourself with. It was a great novel to read, and I look forward to more from Pip Harry.