The story alternates between the present, 2014, and the past, 1972, where tragic events unfold in a small, farming community, near Coromandel. The main characters are two young girls, Nickie Walker and Gabrielle Baxter, whose friendship bridges a share milking social divide; their parents, their employers, and other colourful characters.
The nub of this story is domestic violence, which was something just not talked about in 1970’s New Zealand. This novel brings to life a time and a place, which has disappeared almost completely, part of it being a neighbourhood knowing what’s happening behind closed doors, but collectively ignoring it, not wanting to rock the boat, or interfere in someone else’s domestic affairs.
Nickie and Gabrielle witness something completely shocking, and set out to put things right as best they can, with devastating results. The friendship between the two girls has its funny moments, and the difficult relationship between Nickie and her imperfect mother is brilliantly portrayed.
I loved the excellent story, the wonderful writing, and most of all the evocative picture of New Zealand society in the 1970s, when I was also growing up. Highly recommended for year 10 upwards. LW
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