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  • By Juliana De Nooy
    Aug 26, 2012
    After reading Cave Hill, I’m itching to visit the Carnarvon Ranges in outback Queensland. The novel recounts two journeys to the area: an expedition by a group of high school students, their teacher and a botanist in 1967, and then a pilgrimage by six surviving members of that first trip in the year 2000. The author is retired geography teacher Rob Simson, but the story is not told from the teacher’s point of view, and is not didactic. Rather it’s the adolescent voice of James Delbridge, an asthmatic with a crush on botanist Penny, that carries the story of the first trip. James has a feel for maps, and the landscape comes to life in the tale. Early on we learn that a life will be lost, and the suspense mounts as we recognise tensions between the teenage boys and girls, who are ready to play pranks and are then summoned to meet the challenges of fire, storm and injury. But when we finally learn the tragic circumstances of the death at the end of Part I, questions remain unresolved.... More > Meanwhile, far from Carnarvon, the Vietnam War rages. Fast forward to the year 2000, and only a handful of members of the original expedition can make it to the reunion at Cave Hill. The narration shifts to the third person interspersed with dialogue: we experience the second trip through a variety of worldviews, and we see how others perceive James, which offers us a fresh perspective on Part I. There is fascinating character development: the Vietnam War has intervened, pushing lives in directions they would otherwise not have followed, with lasting effects both on those who went and those who stayed behind. The shift in voices from the teenagers to their older selves is particularly well-captured, and the climax of Part II, with its revelations, is just as gripping and moving as that of Part I. The book is at once entertaining and thought-provoking, the bushwalking excursions paralleling deeper journeys. The characters are well-defined and memorable. The book offers intercultural insights through the perspectives of the indigenous characters and of Anja with her Finnish background, and through a haunting Aboriginal presence, embodied in the landscape. In addition to the maps included, which whet the desire to visit the Carnarvon Ranges, the book contain QR codes to enable quick access to further information via mobile devices. This is a captivating story, told with humour and empathy, and I recommend it to adults and teens with a love of the outdoors.< Less
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Product Details

Strictly Literary
March 19, 2012
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.38 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
5.83 wide x 8.26 tall
Product ID
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