Plenty by John Dale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book has light shades of Wake in Fright about it. Not as horrific as that, but the way Jed sees all the townspeople and shows us how they react to the “boaties” reminded me of that book. Jed comes across as a quiet and thoughtful young man , torn between his affection for and interest in two very different girls and the love and respect he has for his father (in spite of himself).
The storyline of the boat people takes on a life of its own – starting as background to the “relationships” between Jed, Chrissy and Ashley. Eventually the refugee “situation” comes to the fore – hitting notes we have all seen in the media over the past few months. The best part about it is that Dale never pronounces judgement on any of his characters. He lets them speak for themselves, often from the heart. We are left to ponder how we might react in a similar set of circumstances, and also to marvel at small town spirit and connections.
When I reached the end I felt strangely dissatisfied – I guess I expected more of a conclusion, but in hindsight it really reflects the reality of life for many refugees and asylum seekers. A life lived in limbo.
Definitely a novel for our times, and one destined to be remembered of its time.
For ages 14 and up.