…by Caroline Overington.
When 5 year old Jacob Cashman is found unconscious by police and paramedics in a housing commission estate in Melbourne, his single mother and her partner are the suspects. The police don’t believe the mother’s story that a stranger bashed her son when he and his younger brother Harley went to buy her cigarettes. While she and her partner are eventually convicted, rumours still swirl in the neighbourhood about Lauren Cashman, the 6 year old sister, possibly being responsible for Jake’s death. The story narrated by Lauren, Harley, Hayley (another sister, just 18 months at Jake’s death) and other individuals who become part of their lives and the investigation explore the past and the present. The three surviving children are sent to different foster homes through the Department of Community Services and each has their own struggle. Currently, 27 year old Lauren is being hounded by the media in Sydney. Why? What is it that they have found? And did she really have a part to play in the death of her brother?
This is Overington’s debut novel and looks at the child welfare system in the country. The manner in which cases are dealt with in order to tick boxes is very interesting to read, especially for someone who has had their gripes about the same system. Moreover, she looks at issues such as class and the paths we choose. I guess in some way she shows that not everyone who goes through the foster care system ends up being a junkie or a no-good. All of this mixed with some mystery makes an interesting read and one that you could possibly finish in one sitting.
I give it a rating of 4.
Until next time,
Note: This has been cross-posted on my personal blog.