Friday, 24 October 2014

Sandy Feet

Sandy Feet by Nikki Buick. (University of Queensland Press)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 978 0 7022 5315 7
Reviewed by Jo Antareau

For most teenagers, the thought of an extended Australian road trip with family and no access to electronic media would be sheer torture. Hunter is no exception. But as the story unfolds, we find that he is not just a self-absorbed adolescent and this story is so much more than the ‘live a simpler life to reconnect with family’ theme that is so overused it is now a cliché.

Hunter has had a lot to cope with. Grief, his mother’s mental health issues, a sister with special needs and a new step-father and baby half-brother suddenly entering his life, on top of having survived an accident in which others were killed.  The journey is presented to him as a chance for his new blended family to bond and recover from past wounds, but Hunter gradually suspects there is more to it than that.

As the story unfolds Hunter learns that the adults in his life have lied to him. He still resents his father for abandoning them when he was younger but also misses him deeply following the tragic accident. Buick has skilfully adopted the voice of a young adult male; the resentment tempered with humour, whilst keeping the self-pitying to a realistic minimum.

This is ultimately a story about parents learning to have faith that their children can make healthy decisions for themselves, and that running away never solves anything. Along the way, Hunter learns to deal with his longing and grief in tandem with his own growing self-awareness and eventual forgiveness for the adults in his life, who are as flawed as he is.



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