Amy Lawrence

New Zealand

‘This Is How We Change The Ending’ - Author Vikki Wakefield - Review by Amy Lawrence

January 5, 2021

‘This Is How We Change The Ending’ is a fictional novel written by Vikki Wakefield. Sixteen-year-old Nate Mckee lives in a mold-infested government housing facility in Rowley Park’s Bairstal, Australia. Nate shares a room with his three-year-old half brothers (twins) after his bedroom was converted into an illegal ‘grow room’ by his father Dec. The drugs fund Dec’s alcohol and gambling addiction, while Nate and the rest of the family go hungry. Nate feels angry, afraid, and powerless; as he tries to find the strength and courage to survive and reclaim his future.

I felt a sense of admiration for Nate. Despite the unfortunate circumstances by which he lives. Being defenseless against his father’s violence, toxicity, and stunted masculinity, Nate is able to remain resilient and compassionate of others. Nate seeks refuge at the local youth center, writing poetry in his journal allows him to release all the feelings he must repress to survive. When the government threatens to close the center, the only safe place for the kids in town, Nate realizes he can’t be silent any longer and must take a stand even if it threatens his survival. “I made a plan. I put my plan into action -  and this is my reality. There is no alternative, you can only take control of the reality you are in.” Vikki Wakefield insightfully shows the reader the poverty, disadvantage, and challenges Nate faces. The reader is able to compare this to the real world, where so many young people struggle to find meaning, and their voice in society when there are endless obstacles they must overcome. Nate challenges this by saying “Apathy… Indifference… They’re our biggest obstacles.”. All too often people are unable to rise above the restrictions of class disparity, challenge the status quo, and break the seemingly impossible cycle. Unlike Nate, they accept and believe that they are weak, scared, and insignificant, which prevents them from escaping the tyranny of their circumstances. Vikki Wakefield gives the reader hope that even when you feel powerless you can be powerful and reminds us of our potential. For many young people, the ending seems as though it cannot be changed. We are encouraged by Nate’s sobering reality to tackle uncomfortable and confronting topics head-on because the only way to create change is to take a stand.

Throughout the novel, I gained increasing respect for Nate’s English teacher, Mr. Reid; who left the rich side of the country to ‘Make a difference.’. He preaches, “Dream-Goal-Plan-Action-Reality.”, to his students giving them hope for their futures and making them realize their potential. Mr. Reid was honest and stalwart and taught his students passionately. He wished them to realize that options were not as elusive as they thought, with all sincerity. Mr. Reid was an important influence for Nate; on the final pages of the novel as Nate escapes his abusive father with the twins and their mother he tells the reader, “I want to find my way out of the jungle and save the world. For the first time ever, it seems possible.” Mr. Reid was able to change Nate’s life by giving him the confidence and ambition to recognize his own capacity. In reality, teachers have a lifelong impact on their students whether it be positive or negative. Vikki Wakefield portrayed this character in such a way to demonstrate the significance of perceptive teachers to the reader and that even when we feel alone there may be people we do not expect that are willing to support us. In deprived socioeconomic areas, such teachers are very important as often the idea of imagining any kind of future by students is futile. Nate learned to set goals and to dream and desire more for his future. Mr. Reid taught lessons beyond the textbook which ultimately allowed him to make a difference in his students’ lives.

‘This Is How We Change The Ending’ is a thought-provoking, honest novel. I recommend this book to teenagers that feel they need the motivation to make a change in their life, or a push to stand up for what they believe is important. This novel although at times was heartbreaking, overall had an uplifting message. I and all readers are encouraged to visualize our goals, work towards them at every possible opportunity, and to have courage to take control of our futures even if there are obstacles to be overcome.

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