Aster’s Good, Right Things
By Kate Gordon
Reviewed by Sarah Custance
Kate Gordon, an Australian librarian and writer, is the author of Girl Running, Boy Falling, Juno Jones: Word Ninja, and The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn which is the first in a trilogy of books. Aster’s Good, Right Things, Gordon’s latest middle-grade novel, aligns itself more to Gordon’s YA book Girl Running, Boy Falling in reading, than it does to her newer work such as Wonder Quinn.
Life for 11 year old Aster seems to be harder for her than it is for the people around her. In a school of gifted students she feels out of place and invisible. Though invisibility comes in handy when she must do her daily ‘good, right thing’.
If she doesn’t do her ‘good, right thing’ then something bad will happen and it will all be her fault. If she had only been doing her list at the time then maybe her mother wouldn’t have left. There are rules for the ‘right thing’s such as it has to be done in secret; and Aster can’t feel good about doing them or they don’t count.
Things slowly start to change when Aster meets Xavier who is also finding life harder than most. As the two bond, they start to realise that they may not be as alone as they once thought and that friendship can come from very unexpected places if you are willing to open yourself up to it.
This novel deals with many hard-hitting issues in a safe and relatable manner for young readers. Themes include, mental health (OCD, depression, anxiety, anger issues), parental neglect, divorce, foster care, friendship, and diversity.
With such a strong theme of mental health throughout the book it would have been easy to let it take over and drown out the narrative, however, Gordon has managed to weave this integral theme into the storyline and plot seamlessly while still giving the reader an engaging, thoughtful novel of friendship and hope.
Her sympathetic manner in dealing with such strong themes make this book ideal to give to a young person who has a close friend or relative going through some of the characters experiences. It could help develop a deeper understanding of what the other person is going through.
With available teacher notes Aster’s Good, Right Things is a book that I would encourage all libraries to obtain.
Riveted Press 2020