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A rusty old gate, locked or not, is no barrier to Andy’s curiosity. He reckons gates are meant to be walked through or climbed over. And he will. Life’s rotten anyway – he was suspended from school because of rotten Rezzo and sent to England with his mother, which means he’ll miss a whole cricketing summer at home in Aussie! Even worse, his Gran gave him an old green agate marble to take back, she said, to where it belongs. And does the gate lead to an orphanage? Weird kids appear: they don’t even have a TV, no technology at all. They don’t seem to miss it in their lives, they’re busy and happy and let him share in their exploits. But they think Andy’s talk of moon landings, of seeing close-up photos of Earth taken from a space station or an orbiting telescope, is all imagination. They accuse him of telling lies. To claim his mum cooks with microwaves and dries washing at the press of a button is as ridiculous as his story of flying halfway round the world in twenty-four hours. However, despite all his high-flying talk, he’s friendly enough and even daft enough to think a crystal set is jewellery! For Andy, knowing them is all about growing up and appreciating the basics of life.
Over the Rusty Gate is Maureen Mitson’s fourth full-length novel and her first in the YA genre. It has a biographical background commended for its presentation of a lifestyle in pre-techno times. It also captures the energies and arguments of young people attempting to come to terms with life’s events and learning to understand ‘difference’ as ‘individuality’.