Sunday 26 May 2013

The Keeper

The Keeper by Rosanne Hawke (University of Queensland Press)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978 0 702 24973 0
Reviewed by Jo Antareau

The first book in a trilogy about Joel Billings, a boy who seems to be a magnet for trouble. First published in 2000, this has been re-released to coincide with the long awaited third book in the series, Killer Ute.

At first glance, Joel is just a trouble maker. He’s often in trouble for fighting, has a short temper and struggles at school. But Hawke allows us to walk in his shoes, to see the world through his eyes. He lives with his grandmother and has no memory of either parent, who were both ‘into drugs’. He wants nothing to do with his own father, who kidnapped him as a baby to get his hands on Joel’s inheritance. But Joel longs for a caring man in his life, and unaware of the risk this might put him in, he places an ad in the paper for a Dad. A tattooed biker, Dev Eagle, turns up.

Dev is exactly what Joel needs in a foster father. Always respectful, he listens to Joel, never judges, and supports him in the things that are important to him. In his company, Joel learns to slow down. Like a ‘real’ invisible friend, Dev lives in the family’s boat shed, and Joel keeps him secret, knowing that his grandmother would never understand. But how long can this last? Particularly with the arrival of Zoe, Gran’s boarder, who sticks her nose into Joel’s life.

Then his father is released from prison and wants to kidnap his ‘meal ticket’ again. The long awaited fishing contest suddenly explodes into a dangerous adventure.

With short chapters and a fast pace, this would appeal to boys who are reluctant readers.

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