Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Australian fiction”

Goddess of Apathy’s #CBR4 Review #10: The Divine Wind, by Garry Disher


The Divine Wind is is a young adult historical fiction novel that I am currently reading with my high school students. I read it before they did, and I was entertained by the plot and character interactions as well as the multiple examples of conflict. So far, students have enjoyed the book as much as I did.

The setting is Broome, Austrailia both before, during, and after World War II. Broome is a seaside town with a mix of culture and ethnicity. The narrator is Hartley Penrose, a seventeen year old son of a pearl master, Michael Penrose. His family also includes a sister, Alice,  and an English born mother, Ida Penrose. Hartley has a friend and love interest, Mitsy Sennosuke, a Japanese girl whose father, Zeke works for Michael Penrose as a pearl diver.

With war looming in the background, the cultural and ethnic differences begin to rise to the surface causing all types of conflict between families and friends. My students are half-way through the book and have found so much to discuss about relationships: can you choose whom to love? What if your parents don’t want you to be together because of race/ethnicity/culture? Can a relationship survive multiple challenges? We have discussed cultural differences of the English, Australian, Japanese, and Aboriginal. We have discussed the conflicts of the expectations of the time period and conflicts between countries in war time.

Garry Disher has so many little nuggets of historical and cultural information. I was not familiar with Broome, Australia past or present. I did not know what pearl divers did. I had no idea what the Register of Aliens was. Yet, I found myself exploring the Internet for information about Australia, stumbling upon the NFSA Film Australia Collection on YouTube. I’ve read countless informational articles about Australia’s beginnings and its geographical landscape, looked at Google Maps Streetview to see Hartley’s viewpoint at Cable Beach, and what Chinatown looks like in Broome. I’ve investigated the newsreels of the time, the music, fashion, and movies that might have been playing in the tin-topped cinema of Sheba Lane. I’ve share that information with my students and it has brought the text to life for them.

I think the book is interesting and entertaining. Disher’s language is plain, but he has some statements and sentences that are meaningful on multiple levels.  I recommend the book for light reading and it shouldn’t take long for you to enjoy it. All the outside research is purely optional.

BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #47: Heller’s Revenge by JD Nixon

Heller’s Revenge is the second book in the Heller series by JD Nixon and it is the book where I really started to dislike the character of Heller.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the books, but Heller is a major dick.  For basic info on the first book, see my review BoatGirl’s #CBR4 Review #46: Heller by JD Nixon

In the second book, the protagonist Tilly Chalmers is continuing in her new career working for a high end security service run by Heller.  Per Heller’s requirements, she lives in a flat in the company building, drives a company car with a license plate that says ‘Heller’s,’ and isn’t supposed to leave the building except for work, for any reason whatsoever without checking it with Heller first.  She has a new boyfriend, but can’t bring him to her flat, and Heller won’t let her stay overnight with him.   Controlling much?

He’s a pretty crappy boss, too.  When things go awry during a job, he blames Tilly, even though a. the client is happy, b. Tilly did nothing wrong and c. if the other security men had been acting professionally, it wouldn’t have happened.  And this is typical.  He gets angry even though he is the one that has put her in the situation against her protests.   If Tilly was a friend or relative of mine, I’d be telling her to get the hell away from the controlling, psycho who kills people, no matter how sexy he is or how much he says he cares about you.  He crazy, girl, and he ain’t going to get better.

For instance, a major event in the book is that Tilly is hired to “bear witness” for an environmentalist who knows that some big businesses are trying to kill him and doesn’t want to die alone.  Tilly falls for the environmentalist, they wind up sleeping together, he dies (as expected) and Tilly is injured.  Heller asks who instigated the relationship, and when Tilly says the environmentalist, Heller’s response is that it’s a good thing the guy is dead, because he would kill him otherwise!

That may be why I find these books so fascinating.   We all wonder why people in abusive relationships don’t just leave.    These books are about a strong, smart woman, who doesn’t realize what a terribly screwed up situation she is in, who keeps rationalizing why she needs to stay and that Heller really does care for her.  No matter what he does to her, she forgives him and jumps back in the rooftop hottub with him.

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