Author(s): Tina Shaw
This alternate history coming-of-age YA is the Winner of the 2018 Storylines Tessa Duder Award.
“An inferior people, that’s what the Director called us at the beginning of his reign, but still useful.”
There are two peoples living in the city of Ursa: the Cerels and the Travesters. Travesters move freely and enjoy a fine quality of life. Cerel men are kept in wild camps and the women are no longer allowed to have children. The Director presides over all with an iron fist.
Fifteen-year-old Leho can’t remember a time when Cerels lived without fear in Ursa. His parents once tried to organise an uprising – his mother was blinded, and his father was taken away. But now his world is changing. Revolution is coming. People will die. Will Leho be able to save his family?
In the city of Ursa, the fair-haired Travesters are seen as superior while the dark-haired Cerels struggle to survive ... but it is only a few years since they all lived together as equals. At fifteen, Leho has no memory of this time - all he has known is fear.
His parents once were revolutionaries but now his mother is blind and his father is incarcerated in a camp along with almost all adult male Cerels. With a growing threat of ethnic cleansing, revolution is coming again and Leho wants to be a part of it. Still considered a child, he is able to move around the city more easily than his older siblings but will he have the courage to do what he sees as necessary. Is it even the right thing to do?
A tense fantasy-thriller, Ursa takes a little while to really get going as we are immersed in the fascinating world and characters of Leho's life. It asks some big questions and is a great read for 11+. A very timely story and the winner of The Storylines Tessa Duder Award for 2018.
Finalist in the Young Adult Fiction Award for the 2020 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
Tina Shaw is a novelist, short story writer and editor, and has written for both adults and children. She has received many awards including the Berlin author residency.
Her first novel Birdie was widely praised. She has also self-published City of Reeds, Dreams of America, edited A Passion for Travel, and later wrote The Black Madonna, Paradise and Fluff Helps Out. Some of her titles have been published in Pearson's Nitty Gritty and Mainsails series aimed to encourage reading. About Griffen's Heart was a Storylines Notable book and a LIANZA shortlisted title in 2010. The Children's Pond was shortlisted for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.