Saturday, 4 January 2014


Dunger by Joy Cowley (Gecko Press)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 9781877579462
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Themes of generational differences and sibling relationships are covered in this brilliant book by the talented New Zealand author, Joy Cowley. The story has a character driven plot and is told in alternate chapters from the point of view of eleven year old William, and his fourteen year old sister Melissa.

With money as an incentive, the siblings agree to spend their vacation helping their grandparents repair their home. Home is an old wood hut. But this lack of modernity is nothing compared to the strangeness of the two old hippies. Between them they have seeing, hearing and mobility problems. There is no mobile reception, an old wood stove is used for cooking, and the water pipe frequently gets flooded out by rain. What have they gotten themselves into?

Will and Melissa are forced to stay the ten days or forfeit the money. They find that country living can become an adventure as they learn practical and valuable life skills, initiative and resourcefulness. Discovering unknown things about their father’s childhood, both realize the importance of knowing about their family’s past.

This is a fantastic read, realistic and clever. The characters are outstanding and readers will come away satisfied that they have learned a great deal about life from the contents of this excellent novel.

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