Written by Ashleigh Meikle
We’re All in This Together was written and published at the height of the Victorian lockdown. Six school friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming, and Tyler – are separated from each other. COVID has meant they can’t see each other or go to school. They have to wear masks and stay home and remember to wash their hands.
In 2020, the world has looked very different. Masks, Zoom meetings, sanitiser, and staying away from places we don’t need to go to. It’s been a tough year for everyone, and in Australia, Victoria has had the harshest restrictions. As I write this, I’ve been keeping an eye on the numbers as I have friends in Victoria I’ve stayed in contact with, and sent messages of support to, and I am damn proud of what they’ve done to smash the curve. This book is for them and it is also for all Australians.
COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere soon. We still have to physically or socially distance for months to come. Washing hands and carrying around sanitiser and wipes has become so ingrained in us, this is also something that will continue, even after we find a vaccine. Masks have become part of our daily lives, and we’ll continue to use them, even if we only use them when sick once we’re through this pandemic. It’s been a year where we’ve all had to slow down and take a breath to look at what is truly important. Books like this are timely and specific – and they mark a historical event that has affected so many of us, and in so many different ways, but also similar ways.
Readers of all ages will recognise the anxiety, and isolation that Skye describes, and that Alice’s illustrations perfectly capture what children and many of us have been feeling since March, but especially for children and those in Victoria and Melbourne. This powerful book captures all these emotions and reminds us that we are not alone in this battle, even though it feels like it sometimes. Everybody is affected by the pandemic, even if we all experience it differently depending on our jobs and where we live. We’ve found new ways to connect and have discovered new interests. The end is hopeful, and when we are able be together again, we will know that we all helped each other, even in small ways, to get through this tough year.
It’s books like this that involve COVID that I think will help us all cope with what is going on. In many ways, it is still a tough thing to tackle in writing, and perhaps it takes a very special person and very special kind of story to communicate in simple yet evocative ways what this time is truly like. We’re all anxious, and sometimes, it can be hard to articulate that. This book will help articulate how we feel and explain it to kids of all ages in schools and at home.
A special book that will give us hope, as well as marking this time in history in a unique and accessible way.