The flight of the emu ISBN: 9780340799390
Published by Hodder, 2001
Mak, born in Cardiff and one quarter Chinese, lives in a children's home, where the carers try, but are so hemmed round with rules and bureaucracy that the children feel almost as though they are in prison. Mak is jaunty, hiding his feelings, but, particularly when he is in school, he has behavioural problems. He is also statemented and can barely read. When eccentric Australian Evelyn Cairns arrives at the children's home and chooses Mak as someone she wants to know better, he is wary at first. Soon, though, he is thoroughly happy with her in her small house, and she plans to adopt him. When she suddenly disappears from his life with no explanation, he is deeply sad. A new set of parents appear for him - Wendy and Bob - and he is catapulted into their lives with almost no warning. Fat, warm-hearted Bob is not a problem, but Wendy, house-proud and much too interested in money, does not find loving a difficult 11 year old easy, and the feeling is mutual. When it develops that Mak has inherited a large sum of money from Evelyn (he is finally told she has died), Wendy plans a round-the-world trip for the three of them. The trip is a disaster, and Wendy leaves Mak and Bob in Hong Kong. It is apparent that the attempt to adopt Mak has been a way of gluing the marriage together - an attempt that has failed miserably. Mak and Bob travel on to Australia, which they both like so much that they decide to stay. In a rather rushed ending to an excellent book, we leave them on the beach making plans. Mak's feelings about his strange life are very well done, and the characterizations are believable.