The World Beneath

…by Cate Kennedy.

15 year old Sophie lives with her single mother Sandy in Ayersville, Australia. Her mother is a 45 year old ditzy woman still living like a hippie who believes in karma, thinks being a vegetarian is important, smokes an occasional joint and still bravely sells home-made jewellery at the markets as a job. Then there’s her dad Rich. The one who left when Sophie was barely a year old. And since then, then only form of correspondence has been through letters and the phone. He is a freelance photographer with a ponytail and still living in the past. Both her parents still reminisce about their glory days as young adults when with fervour they participated in the Franklin River Blockade in Tasmania.

Things kick into action when Rich decides to take Sophie to Tasmania for bushwalking and more importantly, for an opportunity to bond with his estranged daughter. Despite Sandy’s reluctance, Sophie has made up her mind. She wants to get to know her dad who seems so much cooler than her mum. As Sophie travels to Tasmania with Rich and explores the beautiful wilderness, she comes to realise that her dad isn’t who she thought he was.

This is a beautifully written book about parenting and family dynamics. It is about the clash of generations and the struggles of a family. It is about individuals trying so hard to live in the glory of the past or the vision of the future that they forget to live in the present. It is about love and redemption. It is about the ups and downs of teenage life but also of parenting. And finally, it is about survival. Not just in the true sense of the word but also of one’s spirit.

The characters by Kennedy were extremely well drawn out. Sophie as the sullen ’emo’ teenager who had to grow up too soon and take charge is brilliant. Your heart goes out to her. Sandy as the kooky mother is hilariously pathetic. And Rich as an arrogant know-it-all is all too real. The picturesque scenery of Tassie makes you want to visit the place. All in all, it was a fast-paced read that keeps the reader engrossed till the very end and does play with your emotions. I would definitely try to read other novels by the same author given her flowing style and narration.

I give it a rating of 4.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Note: This has been cross-posted on my personal blog.

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