Big Brother, Little Sister by Witi Ihimaera
16 February 2001


At the first reading I enjoyed Big Brother, Little Sister. The first paragraph grabbed me and as the story emerged I became more and more intrigued.

Something I particularly enjoyed was my recognition of the route Hema and Janey were taking. I do a lot of walking around the city for fun and it was good to see the streets through another person's eyes. I disliked the violent imagery as that is not my city, but I understand why it was used: to emphasise the violence that began the family's disruption and that was a factor in Hema's final decision to leave home.

On reading it the second time, however, I thought that Ihimaera was trying too hard. In what way do "showering blue sparks" make a trolley bus "appear like a giant red beetle writhing in pain"? The family scenes are good, but many of the street passages just don't make it.

The storyline is excellent but overall I am disappointed by the telling of the story, from overly descriptive beginning to too-predictable end.


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