"A land devastated by a tsunami and a family devastated by grief"
February 2022 Book of the Month
Apparently taking inspiration from the ghostly sightings of wet figures following the 2011 Japanese tsunami, this astonishing and thought-provoking novel examines the impact of loss and grief on individuals and families and upon whole communities.
The former Children’s Laureate never writes the same book twice and this is a startlingly original concept: part a dystopian story of a climate affected future, part very creepy ghost story, part coming of age, part an agonisingly accurate portrait of a family under stress and ultimately a philosophical examination of how individuals and society handle death and grief. If this sounds a lot for a relatively slim novel, be reassured that you are in the hands of an expert who writes without a wasted word.
For such a thought-provoking book, the action never lets up and holds the reader in a vice like grip. The strange and desolate landscape of the remote and neglected region, to which Louie and his father travel on his routine inspection job, is so vividly evoked that the reader feels every moment of the earthquake, the terrible tsunami and the desolation which follows. The otherness of the Uplander community and how they are treated by the rest of the Federation has a distinct resonance with our own time, but their culture and beliefs evoke echoes of a much more distant past and of a deep-seated universal need for ceremonies, beliefs and customs that help humanity to cope with death. As a reader we share Louie’s cathartic experience and can feel hopeful for his future.
This author always takes great care to leave a reader with hope and generally, most definitely so in this case, with a deeper understanding of the human condition. A brilliantly rewarding read.