Sometimes you pick up a book and it makes you think really hard about the events which occurred in your life, that led you to where you are today. Sometimes it’s just one moment in time, others it can be a series of events. Sometimes it’s for the best, others for the worst and sometimes you just can’t tell. But what happens if the event should not have effected you in the way that it did? What if the change in the path of the rest of your life, was brought about by the actions of another person? This is precisely what happened in Bereft, written by a wonderful Australian author named Chris Womersley.
A sad tale, and not necessarily the ending that you want, Bereft is a moving and quick
read. At the end of World War I, Quinn Walker returns to an Australia that has not only been affected by the War itself, but also by a flu epidemic which has run rampant throughout much of the country. It has caused the closure of borders and created a fear that is much closer to home than that created by the War. With nowhere else to go, he makes his way back to his home town of Flint, located in western NSW. It is the town he ran from ten years earlier, when he was accused of a crime which even his own family believed him guilty of – a crime he did not commit. Because of this crime, Quinn was not able to enjoy the final years of his childhood and instead found himself fighting at Gallipoli and Pozieres, far from the heat and seclusion of Australia.
Quinn’s reasons for returning to a town where he will surely be killed are unclear even to himself, until he meets a young girl in the hills surrounding the town. Sadie Fox – twelve years old, orphan, spy and witch. Tormented by visions from his time in the War and tormented even more by the crime which he was accused of, Quinn strikes up a relationship with the child which would eventually make him realise why he returned home and what he needs to do.
I have recently read many books by some brilliant Australian authors and they have all made me realise how wonderful this country really is. They have also opened my eyes to the fact that the history of this country is a lot more interesting that I had originally given it credit for. But this book would probably have to be my favourite by far at the moment. The story is original and the characters are realistic, but the thing I loved the most about it was the beautiful writing. There was so much feeling in this book created by the writing, that it was difficult to imagine that it wasn’t the re-telling of a true story, perhaps taken from someone’s memoirs. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have everything you know taken from you by the actions of one person with evil intentions. I felt so much sorrow and anger for Quinn that I wish I could have just reached through the pages and hugged him, or told him that it was all going to be ok. This book will keep you thinking all the way through and it will have you thinking even after you have closed the cover on the last page.
RATING – 8 out of 10. I have to say that I didn’t love the ending, but I won’t tell you why as I don’t want to ruin it for you.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – I don’t think that it is really exclusive to one group of people. I reckon everyone should give it a go.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – Quinn definitely. A young man who could have done so much with his life, but was never allowed the chance because of someone else’s wrongdoing.
FAVOURITE QUOTE – “Do you know, Quinn, there isn’t even a word for a parent who has lost a child? Strange, isn’t it? You would think, after all these centuries of wars and disease and trouble, but no, there is a hole in the English language. It is unspeakable. Bereft.”