Aussie Author Challenge Australian Women Writers Book Reviews

Book Review: The Choke by Sofie Laguna #AWW2018

book review the choke

Ten-year-old Justine Lee lives with her grandfather, Pop, near the banks of the Murray River. Abandoned by her biological mother and having a father who is hardly ever around, Justine only has her Pop. Pop though, is still struggling with the after-effects of the war. Her half-brothers, Kirk and Steve, occasionally stay over too but their mother cannot stand Justine. When her father Ray visits, he constantly plays the kids against one another.

While Pop tries to do his best, he neglects Justine’s basic needs like food for school, whether she can read and write, clean clothes or shoes that fit. The week before her dad is meant to come for a visit, Justine gets into trouble at school and is made to sit with Michael Hooper, a kid with a physical disability but super-smart. Unfortunately, he is an outcast and the teachers too, don’t have time for him and assume he is intellectually disabled too. A friendship begins to develop between Justine and Michael amid the rest of her crazy life. And just when things couldn’t get worse, her father Ray gets arrested and thrown in gaol.

Sofie Laguna is one of my favourite authors. I can only dream of writing like her. Like her previous books, she has chosen to narrate this from Justine’s point of view. As readers, we only know what Justine knows. And we don’t know a lot. We wade through Justine’s world filled with violence, neglect and poverty. There is no certainty whether she will continue in this cycle or whether she will eventually manage to break free.

Laguna’s characters are beautifully drawn. Your heart goes out to Justine and there were moments in the book when I teared up. Michael is another adorable character and his and Justine’s friendship warms your heart and fills you with hope about the goodness in this world. Kirk and Steve, are heartbreakingly real and Pop, with his shades of grey, is still someone you can empathise with. All in all, it’s a painful, yet wonderful read.

My rating:

Where to find the author:


***Read and reviewed for the 2018 Australian Author Challenge, the 2018 Australian Women Writers’ Challenge and Erin’s Reading challenge 8.0. Also linking up with Kylie for IBOT***

Until next time,

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  • Natalie @Be Kind 2 You
    20 March 2018 at 10:42 am

    With a 5 star rating it looks like a book worth reading. I am looking for my next book that I can curl up at night with.

  • Ramya Abhinand
    20 March 2018 at 3:21 pm

    I havent read Sophie Laguna yet.. I shall go by your recommendations, and have a look at this for sure.

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    20 March 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Sounds like a ripper of a read. I’m trying to read 101 books in 1001 days so will add this to the list!

  • Denyse
    20 March 2018 at 7:45 pm

    It does not sound like something I would read…but I am so glad this author’s work resonates with you and that your writing is going well too. Denyse #teamIBOT
    Denyse recently posted…Telling My Story. Chapter 1. 2018.26.My Profile

  • Obsessivemom
    20 March 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Five stars means it’s a great book to read. A ten -year-old’s point of view makes for interesting story telling.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easierMy Profile

    21 March 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Whoa a 5 star rating- looks like a book not be missed then! Marking it up for a read later in the year.

  • March 2018 Reflections - Sanch Writes
    2 April 2018 at 6:01 am

    […] March, I read and loved Sofie Laguna’s The Choke. I also loved When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi {review to come soon}. I finished My […]

  • Whispering Gums
    11 April 2018 at 12:48 am

    Loved this book too, though I’d say that while we see the world through Justine’s eyes, in some ways we “know” more than she knows. I thought Laguna handled that aspect very well.