|There is a build-up, during the novel, to the life-changing incident which has been heavily telegraphed. When it finally happens, it is no surprise, at least not to this reader. Even the title of the novel suggests what it will be.|
The story is told in present tense, which I'm afraid I find pointless and pretentious in most cases. In this one, the author is so determined to tell her talk this way, she does it even when past tense would be more appropriate, as when a character is telling of something that happened to him in the past. Perhaps a little less bouncing around between years would have been better; at one point in the novel, we go straight from 1999 back to 1978, without warning. A sentence begins "The next day..." and it took me a minute to realise it was "the next day" in 1978!
Still, this is a fairly readable novel. Cat is a sympathetic, if passive, character, and her often irritating mother is at least understandable. The ending is appropriate, with the cycle of life returning to where it was in 1978 and the family - what is left of it - together again. It won't take you long to read and makes good beach reading.
The book makes some interesting points about decent people being quite capable of violence. At the same time, the teenagers presented are real and believable; you would almost swear the author was hanging around a schoolyard with pen and notebook. There's a certain flavour reminiscent of Glyn Parry.
If this is a sample of his work for older readers, he should do every bit as well as he has with children's books, but be warned: there is one stomach-churning scene that is not for the faint-hearted.
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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