Allen and Unwin (2013)
Reviewed by Peta Harrison
It is always great when stories of our geographically near neighbours begin to make their way onto our shelves. Constable has written an absorbing tale of New Guinea’s search for independence through the eyes of the expat Australian community who helped to establish business in the area. Julie has been sent to New Guinea to spend time with the father she barely knows after a disagreement with her mother. She is taken aback at the primitive conditions in which the community lives and the relationships between locals and the expats. Over time she learns to appreciate life and the relationships that develop. She also finds a sister that no-one else knows about and a depth of love for both parents that she finds unexpected. By the end of the summer she has experienced love and loss.
I loved this novel because of the recent historical nature of the events but do wonder if the adolescent reader will ‘get’ that it is actually an historical novel about events that are quite significant in Australian (and New Guinea) history. Or maybe it doesn’t matter? Would be great to use in S&E and English classes with respect to the Australian Curriculum.