Addie McAllister is a feisty 12-year-old whose life goes from one disaster to another. Her parents are Shakespearean actors who find it difficult to find work during the Great Depression around the 1930’s in Australia. Addie’s adventures begin when she is left at the Emu Swamp Children’s home, along with her pet cockatiel called Macbeth, while her parents look for work. About six months after her arrival, Addie wins the Coal Country Eisteddfod’s first prize which unknowingly puts her in danger from the child-seller, Barnett Scrimshaw.
Addie finds life in the orphanage unbearably restrictive and she is constantly in trouble. She runs away when she discovers the matron is planning to sell her to Scrimshaw. Addie finds refuge with a group of other runaway children and briefly finds safety. However, the matron’s clerk discovers her whereabouts and she is on the run again. Next Addie finds refuge at a hotel, but again she is discovered. This time by the child-seller, Scrimshaw who hauls her off to Sydney along with her orphaned friend Jack, who inadvertently gets caught up in the drama, as well as, Macbeth, the cockatiel who manages to complicate events even more.
Sweet Adversity is an exciting adventure, but I found the number of disasters befalling Addie unwieldly. She leaves unfinished business as she runs from one place to another, which isn’t resolved satisfactorily. Scrimshaw comes to an unpleasant end, and we do learn that the matron of the orphanage is arrested, but not what becomes of the other orphans.
The author, Sheryl Gwyther, makes a point of having her main characters face and overcome their greatest fears. She also points out the nobler qualities of her antagonists, but I’m not sure to what end, as this was more of a distraction than moving the plot forward. The story is also heavily-laced with Shakespearean quotes, often from the cockatiel, which makes me wonder about the suggested age group of 9+.
Overall, it was a great adventure, but a bit clumsy.
Thanks to Christian School Suppliers for providing a free book for review.