26 June, 2014

Book Review: Past the Shallows

From Goodreads: Brothers Joe, Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. Everyday their dad battles the unpredictable ocean to make a living. He is a hard man, a bitter drinker who harbours a devastating secret that is destroying him. Unlike Joe, Harry and Miles are too young to leave home and so are forced to live under the dark cloud of their father's mood, trying to stay as invisible as possible whenever he is home. Harry, the youngest, is the most vulnerable and it seems he bears the brunt of his father's anger...

Thoughts: I was in equal parts drawn to this because of the cover and scared to read it due to the comment on the front cover - "Wintonesque" I love Tim Winton and I was terrified of reading this and having to exclaim - "You know nothing of Winton!" And while it wasn't Tim Winton, I can see the parallel. Parrett has a sparseness of language that portrays way more than you would think, something Winton is a master of. The bleakness of the setting perfectly reflects the bleakness of the story, giving the reader an ongoing sense of foreboding. My heart breaks for all three of the boys in this book. Joe because you know he will feel guilt for leaving the other two, but you also know he doesn't have a choice. Miles because you know he can't leave - he must fill the hole left by Joe and protect Harry from their wild, angry father. Harry because he still holds an air of innocence, but it is already being tainted by the harsh life he leads.
Past the Shallows is a book that will be enjoyed by those who like Winton. For a debut novel it's exceptional and you would think the only place for this author to go is up.

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