Helicopter man ISBN: 9780747575498
Published by Bloomsbury, 2005
This Australian novel about 12 year old Pete and his schizophrenic father was written because the author realised that 'information booklets were not enough to ease (children's) pain and bewilderment'. Children who have parents with schizophrenia will identify strongly with Pete as his dad moves them from place to place in his mistaken belief that the authorities are after them - particularly strange men in helicopters. Pete's mum died in a car crash right after having left him and his dad, a situation due to dad's illness. It is only at the end of the story that we learn the true facts. All along, Pete has believed his dad's stories that they are in danger, and has gone along with their running. The novel is told through Pete's diary, from 6th May to 19th August, and is harrowing. Flashbacks tell us further detail until we get a complete picture of Pete's life in the last six years. Totally believable, and with hope at the end when Pete is taken into care and his dad gets the hospital treatment he so desperately needs. The love between the boy and his father is palpable, and is mirrored in an odd way by a family of mice that Pete adopts. There are people along the way who willingly help, and Pete must learn to accept their help. An important novel.