Young romance on a windswept and isolated Australian island makes for a enjoyable read, particularly the adventurous Mundy’s evocation of one of Australia’s most interesting wild places.
Stephanie West, 16, is dragged against her will to an isolated, windswept island 5.5km south of Tasmania, in what is an attempt by her mother to heal the family after the tragic death of Stephanie’s twin, Callum.
Their work as caretakers and weather observers is a return to childhood for her mother, whose father was one of the island’s last lighthouse keepers.
Cut off from her friends, Steph finds solace in the company of Tom, a deckhand on his brother’s cray finishing boat. Tom is struggling with his increasing discomfort at his bully brother’s risky and illegal activities and is looking for a way out.
Two things that really stand out in this engaging coming-of-age story are the setting – wild and windswept Maatsuyker Island, the southernmost piece of land on the Australian continental shelf – and the personal experience of wild places that adventurous Tasmanian author Robyn Mundy can bring to her writing.
In preparation, she spent months as a volunteer caretaker and weather observer on Maatsuyker. Mundy, who has also overwintered in the Antarctic, clearly understands such wild and isolated landscapes, and it comes out in the vividness of the writing.
Once back on the mainland, the wrap-up seems a bit confused, but this is an excellent read overall.
This review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine. The book was published in February 2016.