Clo and the albatross ISBN: 9780745934624
Published by Lion, 1997
Chloe (Clo) and her older sister Beth are in a car accident, from which Beth emerges with a Reversible Brain Injury. This means that in the beginning she has no reaction to anyone or anything around her and must use a wheelchair. Clo quickly comes to resent the changes this brings to her life, particularly the fact that her grandparents (with whom they live) expect her to help look after Beth. Beth has been a lively, talented girl, and Clo finds it very hard to accept that she has become her own particular 'albatross'. Through the school play, Clo becomes friends with Lizzie and Mary, daughters of the new Methodist minister and his wife - warmly funny, supportive people who help Clo gain perspective on her situation. As she takes Beth for walks around town, she discovers how difficult access to buildings is for the disabled, and with the help of others, she organises a large demonstration to raise awareness. As a manual on 'how to organise', this could hardly be bettered! The details are all there - a fact which slows the action somewhat and tends to emphasise the didactic nature of the book as a whole. Beth does recover, but the real theme of the book is Clo's reaction to and ultimate acceptance of Beth's disability rather than on Beth herself. The caring Christian community that helps both girls may be off-putting to some, but there is lots of emphasis on different ways of being different. A not completely successful approach, but very readable.