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Where The Trees Were

by Inga Simpson

A beautiful new novel about the innocence of childhood and the scars that stay with you for life, from the award winning author of Mr Wigg and Nest.

'All in?' Kieran pulled me up, and the others followed.
We gathered around the bigger tree.
No one asked Matty - he just reached up and put his right hand on the trunk with ours.
Kieran cleared his throat.
'We swear, on these trees, to always be friends. To protect each other - and this place.'

Finding those carved trees forged a bond between Jay and her four childhood friends and opened their eyes to a wider world. But their attempt to protect the grove ends in disaster, and that one day on the river changes their lives forever.

So begins a strange dance around the truth by these three men. Haunted by the fifteen hundred who went to their deaths in those icy waters, and by the loss of his own baby son years earlier, Steadman must either find redemption in the Titanic's tragedy or lose himself.

Seventeen years later, Jay finally has her chance to make amends. But at what cost? Not every wrong can be put right, but sometimes looking the other way is no longer an option.

Reviewed by Ben at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:

I loved every minute of reading this book. 

It's one I approached cautiously given that even by looking at the jacket of this book, you can tell that landscape is a focus in the prose. This has so often been done heavy-handedly, particularly by white Australian writers and I was thrilled to see this novel break away from that trend. Here, Inga creates a visceral world in Jay's bush home that's been informed by the author's own childhood. Simple, beautiful descriptions make for lovely, reflective reading. 

A depth of insight and invention has gone into this book and the author craftily presents this in dual plot lines that move in parallel both in Jay's adolescence and her present day. Coming of age, land and belonging, cultural identity, and the custodianship of our native heritage are all hefty themes that get discussed in this story - each with respect and clarity. Very rewarding.

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