Monday 3 September 2018

Water Hole

Water Hole By Fiona Bell (UQP) RRP $24.99   ISBN 9780702259999

Reviewed by Claire Stuckey

Sunny is grieving for her mum recently killed in a car crash and blaming her stepdad. As the story opens she prepares to leave school to return the farm for school holidays. Sunny and Kevin do not communicate but ague, both grief- stricken in their own ways. Confused by "sightings" of her mother and the real sense that she feels her mother's presence, Sunny shies away from sharing her thoughts and feelings.

Motivated to help find a lost boy, she joins other searches in the bush land near the Waterhole. Many have died in the strong currents and this is where she sees her mother beckoning her. Falling hard, Sunny wakes in hospital but finds the concussion makes her more unsteady and venerable. She resolves to find the missing boy or his body, believing that he is already dead. Incidents and evidence lead the community to believe her stepfather Kevin was responsible, and Sunny agrees. Seeking answers to many questions including the identity of her natural father, she spends more time at the waterhole where she meets teenage Matt whom she finds attractive and interesting. 

When she tries to leave town, even more secrets are revealed. Sunny is isolated and confused, her relationship with Matt strained.  Returning to the waterhole, she faces a tragic and confronting encounter. 

This book explores the dynamics of grief. Rural life and small-town relationships serve as a backdrop to Sunny's struggle without a mother and with a stepfather she does not really know. 

The story also keeps you focused on the crime that we think has been committed. The supernatural element ties the story together keeping one guessing and ensures the reader empathises with the central character. This is a great young adult novel set in an Austrian country town. Back ground characters developed make relevant but not overdrawn players in this dramatic but very readable plot for ages 13 and up.

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