The White Girl, by Tony Birch

Quarrytown and Deane are separated physically by a road called Deane’s Line. They’re separated even further by history, prejudice, and laws that keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the bottom of the social and legal ladders. When we meet protagonist Odette Brown and her granddaughter, Sissy, at the beginning of The White Girl, by Tony Birch, they—and all people of Aboriginal heritage—are not citizens. They’re wards of the state, which means that the government and law enforcement can do almost anything with them as long as it’s “in their best interests.” Odette lives in fear of the day when the authorities decide that they need to take Sissy away from her.

Similar to actions by the governments in the United States and Canada, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were taken away to missions to be civilized or adopted out to white families. Today, these children are known as the Stolen Generations. Odette was one of these children, for a time, although she did get to live with her father for a while. Through her memories, we learn just a small bit of what it was like to be stripped not only of her family ties, but also her traditional culture and faith and language. When we meet her, Odette lives in Quarrytown in the house that her father built before his death. Sissy is the only member of her family she has left. It’s a spartan life, but they’re both doing just fine…until a new police officer shows up to take over from the soon-to-retire old sargeant, who doesn’t mind what anyone does as long as it doesn’t interfere with his drinking.

This new officer is determined to put everything to rights (as he defines them) as soon as he arrives in town, which includes a census of Aboriginal people, and definitely not going to wrangle the increasingly violent Kane family (they’re white). His interest in her little family sends Odette into a frenzy. It doesn’t help that Odette is also experiencing severe abdominal pain and the nearest hospital that can help is much too far away from Sissy for Odette’s comfort. The tension ratchets up as the new cop threatens to interfere with the small Brown family and blatantly ignore actual crimes happening in Deane and Quarrytown.

I was fascinated by Odette’s story—especially the parts of her heritage she was able to hold onto—and the stories of the other Aboriginal people she meets along her path. She is surrounded by injustice and, until she finds people inside the government who are willing to help, there’s very little she can do to change the status quo. When that happens, we’re left to wonder why it couldn’t be that simple (relatively) for everyone to claim their natural and legal rights.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

The Silent Listener, by Lyn Yeowart

Trigger warning for child abuse.

Blackhunt is the last place Joy ever wanted to go. She did her best to escape the family farm at the age of sixteen after years of violent punishments from her church elder father. But at the beginning of The Silent Listener, by Lyn Yeowart, Joy receives a phone call that summons her back. Her father’s doctor has just informed her that the old man is on his death bed and can she come back to take care of him in his last days? Joy reluctantly agrees because, at long last, this might be her chance to finally let Blackhunt know what a monster George Henderson really is.

The Silent Listener is told in three interwoven parts. In 1983, Joy wrestles with her still intimidating, albeit bedridden father and her own desire for revenge. In 1960, we follow a very young Joy during the year when her friend Wendy disappears forever. Lastly, in 1942, we watch as Joy’s mother is emotionally and physically beaten down by George after a mere two months of courtship. Taken together, we see how George created a family of people who are absolutely terrified of him while at the same time becoming one of the most admired men in the district. You see, George never loses his temper or raises his hand to them in public. He’s lively and jolly in a crowd. Because the Henderson farm is so isolated, it’s not hard for George to keep his secrets.

As if all of this wasn’t complicated enough, 1983 Joy is dogged by two ghosts from the past. One ghost is one of the detectives who tried to find Wendy all those years ago. The other ghost is actually a ghost: the ghost of Joy’s sister, Ruth. Both of them hector Joy. The detective is absolutely convinced that Joy did something to speed her father to his death and wants a confession. When Joy starts to drop hints that George might have had something to do with Wendy, he starts to push even harder. As for Ruth, Ruth has always been the part of Joy that will say the things Joy can’t bring herself to say out loud. Ruth is the part of Joy that wants to withhold pain medication or come up with elaborate plans for vengeance.

This is a hard book to read. The child abuse is gutting to read about. No one should live so terrified of someone in their family that they can barely breathe or move when that person is in the same room. Readers will want to shout at the characters to run, to call the police, to do something in spite of all the research about living with abuse that tells us that all of those actions are a lot harder for someone conditioned to the kind of life we witness at the Henderson farm. The Silent Listener is a tough psychological drama, but a good one. I was hooked in spite of all the violence and misery. Readers, consider yourself warned.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Dust Off the Bones, by Paul Howarth

I have a few rules about reading. If a book doesn’t hook you within 50 pages, stop reading it. Dog earring and writing in a book is okay, but only if it’s yours. And, if I finish a book before going to bed, I have to immediately start a new one. While I might bend on the first of these rules, books like Paul Howarth’s Dust Off the Bones remind me why I made the third rule in the first place. The ending of this book had my pulse pounding so hard that I needed the start of a new book to wind myself back down so that I could sleep. Howarth takes us into the outback of Australia, before and after the turn of the twentieth century, to give us a harrowing story about violence, racism, guilt, and the ties that bind.

The violence starts early in Dust Off the Bones. The book opens with a brief prologue set in Queensland in 1885, in which an itinerant minister stumbles across the scene of a massacre of an entire tribe of Aboriginal Australians. The minister rushes to the nearest town to report it to the magistrate, only to be strongly “encouraged” to let it go. The next chapters jump ahead five years and to new narrators. As the pages tick by, we learn a little more about what happened in 1885. Our new narrators, Billy and Tommy McBride, are the surviving members of their family, who were violently killed in 1885. The official story has it that the family’s Aboriginal servant killed the McBrides while the boys were off fishing. A unit of Native Police—a horrific paramilitary group who killed an untold number of Aboriginal people as white settlers moved further and further into Aboriginal territory—go off after the servant and, ostensibly, kill him, his companions, and also a lot of members of the Kurrong*.

The man in charge of the unit of police is absolutely terrifying. Edmund Noone is a virulent racist who thinks nothing of torturing, raping, or killing people. Noone haunts the McBride brothers. He pushed Billy into doing terrible things, then holds the knowledge over the man, adds threats against everyone he loves, to get Noone a little further along his career path. The mere thought of Noone—and an accidental killing plus a whopping dose of post-traumatic stress disorder—send Tommy running from Queensland to Victoria. Dust Off the Bones jumps ahead from 1890 to 1897 to 1906 and beyond, dropping in on the characters as they try to build lives in the shadow of what they did. And, as if this wasn’t complicated enough, a crusading, anti-racist lawyer from Brisbane is trying to uncover the truth of what happened and finally nail Noone to the wall as he deserves.

All the blood and betrayal in the dusty Australian Outback gave me strong Western genre vibes. This is one of the best of the genre I’ve read because the women are complex, strong characters and the racism of the white characters doesn’t extend to the characterization or actions of the Aboriginal people. The plot is also absolutely fantastic; reading it was like the literary equivalent of being a frog in heating water. The longer I read, the faster I went. I just had to know what would happen. Who would survive to the end? Would the truth come out? Would there be justice? Could there be justice?

Dust Off the Bones is an extraordinary read and I would recommend it to any fan of historical fiction who also has a strong stomach.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

*As far as I can tell, the Kurrong are fictional, but what happened to them was not uncommon before, during, and after the years that the Native Police were active.

On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu

Stories like E. Lily Yu’s wrenching novel, On Fragile Waves, help explain why home is so often a sacred concept. Home—as opposed to just a place to live—is where we feel safe. It’s where we feel comfortable and understood. It’s where things smell right and where our stuff is. Firuzeh has lost her home and, although she finds a place to live, is still seeking a place that can be a new one.

We meet Firuzeh and her family—mother, father, and annoying little brother—just as they’ve begun their flight from Kabul, sometime after the turn of the twenty-first century. We glean details about what’s going on the way that a young child does: piecemeal in things adults say to each other that they shouldn’t say in front of children. In between stories meant to distract their children, Firuzeh’s parents talk about their worries over documentation, how much money to give to possibly unscrupulous human smugglers, where they’re going to get their next meal. The family manages fairly well until the boat that they take from Indonesia to Australia is intercepted by Australian forces.

Most of the book takes place in Nauru and Australia. After a rapid flight from Afghanistan, via Pakistan and Indonesia, Firuzeh’s family is interned on Nauru—an island nation that is growing notorious for the conditions undocumented people have to live in before they are either allowed to immigrate to Australia or be deported. We see a small slice of that and this portion of On Fragile Waves is among the most depressing things I’ve ever read. Language barriers and bureaucratic red tape send Firuzeh’s parents into a tranquilizer-fueled despair. The parents lose their stories. They lose the will to do much more than lie in their bunks while the children learn to take care of themselves around the internment camp. Unfortunately for Firuzeh and her brother, the despair never really lifts. It follows them as the family is first denied and then accepted for immigration.

The faint sense of adventure Firuzeh felt at the beginning of On Fragile Waves has completely evaporated by the time the family is allowed to settle in Melbourne. She’s older, for one thing. She’s seen her parents crumble under terrible pressures. Then there’s the bullying she experiences from girls she meets in her new school. In spite of this, Firuzeh comes into her own by the end of the book. She might not have found a new home, but she’s managed to put down some foundations for one.

I’ve read a lot of fiction featuring immigrants in the last few years. (I’m really glad publishers are bringing out more of these. Our society needs to hear these stories.) But On Fragile Waves is the first time I’ve gotten the tale from a child. Yu manages to write from the changing perspective of a growing girl in a completely believable way, one that illustrates just how little control undocumented people (and even legal immigrants, to some extent) have over what happens to them. Firuzeh and her family are so often at the mercy of literal and metaphorical waves that threaten to pull them all under.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Vanishing Falls, by Poppy Gee

The eponymous Tasmanian town of Poppy Gee’s Vanishing Falls is the kind of town that invites cliches. It’s idyllic farm country. There are still mom and pop businesses on main street. But the residents know that this is just a thin veneer. Unemployment is everywhere and it’s far too easy to get one’s hands on methamphetamines. We get a good look underneath that veneer within pages when protagonist Joelle catches two of her fellow residents smoking meth in the school’s restroom after an event.

Joelle has always made people uncomfortable. She’s not the best at picking up on social cues. It took her a very long time to learn how to read; she never really did well in school. Plus there’s her mysterious past. All her overprotective husband knows is that Joelle had a bad time in the foster care system. For all that, Joelle is a very good observer, never seems to forget anything, and has a strong desire to do the right thing even if it’s scary. So when she catches one of the richest men in town and his crony smoking meth, it torments her that she is afraid to say anything to the police. Things only get worse when the meth pushes the crony into maniacal paranoia and starts to harass Joelle.

Meanwhile, the wife of the richest man in town suddenly goes missing. Once the police start asking questions, all of the pastoral pleasantry of Vanishing Falls disappears. No one seems able to hang on to their secrets anymore—except for the one person who is behind the disappearance, later murder, of Celia Lily, and other crimes.

I really enjoyed reading Vanishing Falls. Part of it was the setting; Tasmania doesn’t show up much in North American fiction. Part of it was the tangle of crimes that I got to unpick. Even the mastermind in this novel isn’t really much of a Moriarty. I appreciated seeing ordinary people get in over their heads and end up making things worse trying to get out of their problems. Mostly, I think it was Joelle. Unlike so many other characters I’ve seen in fiction who are not neurotypical or who have intellectual and other disabilities, Joelle is not a paragon. She’s made big mistakes in her past that she still hasn’t really dealt with, but I can sympathize with a woman who deals with things by repressing them and moving on as much as possible. I found Joelle to be a very unique character, one that I enjoyed trying to puzzle out at the same time I was trying to figure out what on earth was going on in this once paradisaical Tasmanian valley.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

The Dry, by Jane Harper

Trigger warning for brief depictions of child abuse and assault.

Aaron Falk does not want to go back to his hometown of Kiewarra in the hot, dusty Australian outback. A terrible incident from his teen years and a town’s worth of scorn chanced him and his father away to Melbourne twenty years before The Dry, a series debut by Jane Harper, opens. Aaron is finally pulled back to Kiewarra by perhaps the only thing that could make him return: the sudden, violent death of his best childhood friend. Aaron plans to play his respects and duck out of town as soon as possible. Of course, readers of mystery novels know that Aaron is not going to get the quick exit he wants.

Luke, Aaron’s childhood friend, died in what appears to be a murder-suicide. The crime—which leaves Luke, his wife, and very young son but spares his infant daughter—is a huge shock to everyone in Kiewarra and to Aaron. There were no signs that Luke would do something like this. The investigation that followed didn’t turn up anyone with a motive to kill the family. In the years since he left, Aaron has become a member of Australia’s federal police; he works on financial crimes not violent ones. But Luke’s father, who was like a second father to Aaron, asks Aaron to look at the family’s documents to see if there was something there that might explain the killings. When Aaron tries to demur, Luke’s father reveals that he knows Aaron’s alibi from years ago—when Aaron’s other childhood friend died in the local river with pockets full of stones—is a lie.

The Dry is a highly atmospheric novel. Kiewarra is in the throws of a long drought. Jobs are gone. Money, like the water, has dried up. The town is a place where people are from, not one they go to. Harper’s exposition made me feel like the sun was beating down on my head more than once. I could almost feel the dust in my nose. Against this backdrop, Harper spins out two stories. One details Aaron’s investigation into Luke and his family members’ deaths. Working with the local police officer, Aaron wrestles with the possibility that Luke really did kill his family and himself. The other, composed of flashbacks, shows scenes from Kiewarra twenty years ago. We see Luke and Aaron and their doomed friend, Ellie, as their friendship morphs from childhood camaraderie to uncomfortable teenage attractions.

I listened to The Dry as an audiobook, narrated with a soft Australian accent by Stephen Shanahan. Shanahan did such good work with Harper’s book that The Dry was over almost before I realized. The only part that dragged was the epilogue, in which we finally learn Ellie’s part of the story. Aaron’s case with Luke and his family wraps up in such an explosive manner that the denouement felt, to me, like it went on too long. It was also a big emotional shift from elated survival to grim tragedy. This epilogue was necessary for the overall plot, but it is the only clumsy part of an otherwise successful mystery novel.

The Yield, by Tara June Winch

Yield is one of the first words in one of the documents—a dictionary and family history written by Albert Gondiwindi—that comprises The Yield, by Tara June Winch. The word “yield” has different meanings in English. In one sense, to yield means to surrender, to give way. In another sense, a yield is something that the land gives up when a field is harvested. I puzzled over the relationship between these meanings as I read about the long history of the Gondiwindi family, from the late nineteenth century to the present, when August Gondiwindi returns from abroad for Albert’s funeral and discovers that her family’s home and land might get snatched out from under them again.

Australia has a long, troubled history with the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Islanders—one that is very similar to the treatment of indigenous people by white Americans and Canadians. First, their land was stolen. Next, men and boys were taken for labor and their women sexually abused. In the twentieth century, children were taken from their families to schools where they were abused and all ties to their cultures were cut. These children are now called the Stolen Generations or Stolen Children. Although Aboriginal people and Torres Islanders have won back some rights in recent decades, racism is still endemic in places. All of this history is visible in the three narratives that make up The Yield. In addition to being beautifully written, this novel is one of the best and most accessible introductions to Aboriginal history I’ve ever read.

The first narrator in The Yield, Albert Gondiwindi, is one of the Stolen Children who devoted his life to recapturing the history, language, and survival techniques of his people. (The author’s note explains that the words that make up Albert’s dictionary are from the Wiradjuri language.) His definitions are mixed up with scenes from his life, from his childhood right through to his old age. Even though Albert has lost a lot of his heritage, the words help him reconnect with his ancestors. The second narrator, also introduced through a document, is Reverend Ferdinand Greenleaf. Greenleaf founded a mission on Gondiwindi land in the 1880s out of a sense of compassion for the Aboriginal people he saw constantly discriminated against, hurt, and even killed by white settlers. Greenleaf wrote a long letter during World War I that reflected back on his years at the Prosperous Mission. Greenleaf’s letter provides even more historical context for the story for the third narrator, Albert’s granddaughter August.

The brolga plays a small, critical role in The Yield. (Image via Wikicommons)

August returns to Prosperous after 10 years in England. When she was a teenager, August ran away from everything she knew to get away from memories of abuse and, most of all, the abduction of her older sister. She’s only back in Australia because her grandfather has passed away. August plans to leave right after the funeral but, on her arrival, she learns that her grandmother is being evicted. The land is going to be torn up for an open pit tin mine. The Gondiwindi had their land stolen more than a century ago. The white people who “owned” the land afterwards only had a 99-year lease. Because so much of their heritage has been lost or forgotten, the family has no way to stop the mining company that will destroy their ancestral land. Or do they?

I enjoyed reading The Yield immensely. I really can’t praise this book highly enough. From the dictionary and Greenleaf’s letter, to the Aboriginal knowledge of Australia’s flora and fauna, and Albert’s time-traveling with his deceased ancestors, to August’s struggles between remembering the traumas of her past and her determination to take back what belongs to her family—I loved it all. Everyone who’s ever been curious about Australia beyond tales of exiled convicts and the exotic locale should read this book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

The Fragments, by Toni Jordan

Trigger warning for brief domestic violence.

Now that I’ve sat down to write a review of Toni Jordan’s The Fragments, I’m not sure what I should say. On the one hand, I devoured this literary mystery. On the other hand, the ending twisted in a way that made me reconsider all of the positive feelings I had for one of the plot lines and not in a good way. Normally, I have a strong no-spoilers policy*. With The Fragments, I think I might have to recommend this book with a whopping caveat about an ending that may or may not make the potential reader dislike the book.

In Brisbane in 1986, a young bookish woman attends an exhibit of the life of author Inga Karlson, who was tragically killed along with her editor when an arsonist set fire to the warehouse that held the only copies of her last novel. Only fragments remain of that book. Karlson’s first novel is frequently referenced by the characters as one of the greatest books of the twentieth century; our protagonist is even named for the main character. At this exhibit, Caddie has a chance encounter with a woman named Rachel. Rachel is a prickly woman, but Caddie is instantly hooked when Rachel quotes a line from Karlson’s last novel…one that does not appear in the recovered paper fragments.

While Caddie and a reluctant bookseller (who grows closer to Caddie over the course of the book) try to track down Rachel and maybe, finally, solve the mystery of who killed Karlson and her publisher, another plot takes us back to the United States in the mid-1930s. Rachel, a poor young woman from a violent home, escapes to New York and begins to build a new life for herself. She meets Inga Karlson while working as a waitress. Inga would have caught her eye anyway, even if the young author hadn’t turned out to be a bit of a kleptomaniac around the chocolate.

The two plots race along. We know from the beginning that Rachel is in danger the longer she stays with Inga. Caddie’s danger is less physical, but no less real. As she tries to find answers in library archives and interviews, she runs the risk of losing everything to an unscrupulous professor who wants to make another big, academic splash. I was totally hooked on both stories. I adored the characters, but it was the plot that really had me. Unlike a lot of other literary-themed mysteries, this one had real, believable stakes and a lively plot.

The ending, though. I’m not going to totally ruin The Fragments by saying what actually happened. I will say that the twist at the end was so abrupt that I flipped back and forth more than once to figure out if I’d missed something. I had not. When I realized what actually happened in those critical paragraphs, I had to immediately revise everything I knew about a major character. I flipped from sympathy and sadness at their fate to anger about their lies. In the past, I haven’t really had qualms about recommending books that were mostly good. The good usually outweighs the bad or unpleasant. I’m honestly not sure if that’s the case with The Fragments, which is a pity because I was really enjoying this novel.

So, for the first time that I can remember, I’m recommending a book not just with reservations, but with a spoiler warning.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

*I’ll admit that part of the joy I have in not telling people how the book ends comes from annoying my pro-spoiler mother by never telling her how things are going to turn out when I recommend something to her.

Under the Cold Bright Lights, by Garry Disher

Alan Auhl puzzled me. For most of Under the Cold Bright Lights, by Garry Disher, Auhl is a very good man. He shelters women and children escaping from abusive partners in his home. He works doggedly on cold cases in and around Victoria, Australia. He even has a good relationship with his ex-wife. Hell, this novel is bookended with Auhl going on down on women and worrying that he hadn’t shaved closely enough. But Auhl commits criminal acts in this crowded, busy book that still have me re-evaluating just how “good” Auhl actually is. Can a detective turn vigilante and still be considered a good person?

There are a lot of plots and sub-plots in Under the Cold Bright Lights. In the opening chapters Auhl’s docket fills up. There is a cold case featuring a dead rancher, whose daughters call Auhl once a year to ask for updates. Then there is a male skeleton found underneath a cement slab on property with a tangled history. And then there is a custody battle over a girl who is staying with her mother in Auhl’s house; the girl’s father is a terrible man. Oh, and there’s another terrible man who might be a Bluebeard and a cult. This really is a busy book, almost like short stories told in parallel with each other.

I was enjoying this novel, for the most part, until the moment with Auhl starts crossing ethical lines. On the one hand, Auhl and the women involved in his cases and the women he shelters are caught in impossible situations. Either they’re trapped by their circumstances; they don’t have the money and wherewithal to escape. In the case of the custody dispute, the father has the money to hire a good lawyer. The mother is so broken down and afraid that she fails to make a good impression on the court—who believe that any father is better than none. When the mother panics at the thought that the father might get more time with their daughter, she runs and makes everything worse (legally speaking). The law can’t or won’t deliver justice in this case or in the case of the possible Bluebeard. But taking action against these mean would mean that Auhl becomes a criminal himself, no matter how much we might sympathize with him. What bothered me is that I actually would have been okay with Auhl’s vigilantism if it weren’t for the fact that it seemed out of character. His criminal acts struck me as more startling than anything else.

Readers looking for a mystery in a far-off setting and/or mysteries involving breakthroughs in cold cases might like this book. Also, readers looking for a (mostly) good guy protagonist might also enjoy Under the Cold Bright Lights. I think this book was weak in terms of character development, but the investigations were pretty good.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, by Robert Hillman

Tom Hope is a good man. He is kind. He is reliable. Unfortunately, he is also unlucky in love. His first wife leaves him twice, foists an illegitimate child on him, and then snatches that child away after Tom grew to love him. But The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, by Robert Hillman, is not the story of Tom’s first marriage. Instead, it is the story of his second marriage and the long healing it provides for himself and his Holocaust-scarred wife, Hannah Babel. 

I had requested this book so long ago from NetGalley that I had forgotten it was a Holocaust book. The first chapters didn’t do much to remind me, as they open on the last weeks of Tom’s troubled marriage on his farm somewhere in Victoria, Australia, in 1962. Tom frets and broods at his farm, wondering what he might have done to keep his first wife while trying to take care of her child, Peter. He broods even more when, after Peter turns five, his first wife reclaims the boy and whisks him away to a repressive Christian community south of Melbourne.

The only things that finally shakes Tom out of his funk are his determination to start dating again and his fortuitous meeting with Hannah Babel shortly after he makes that decision. Hannah has arrived in Hometown, the biggest settlement near Tom’s farm, to launch a bookstore. Hannah’s quirky joie de vivre brings Tom back to full life. Before long, the two are lovers. Then they are engaged. They’re married before the halfway point of the novel; this book is truly a whirlwind.

The only fly in the ointment is Peter’s situation. The boy is desperately unhappy with the Christians. He’s been singled out for a lot of corporal punishment because he refuses to follow the dictates of the communities leader and because he keeps trying to run away to get back to Tom. Tom would swoop in in a heartbeat to rescue Peter if he could do it with the law’s blessing—and if the presence of a young boy didn’t stir up painful memories for Hannah of the loss of her own child at Auschwitz.

My only criticism—and it’s really more of a quibble—is that it feels a little too fast. I wanted to wallow in this book and its wonderfully unique characters, but it was over almost before I knew it. Still, this is just a preference thing. I think other readers who like unusual love stories and give extra points for an uncommon setting will find a lot to love here.

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is great book group fare. There’s plenty to talk about as readers learn more about Hannah’s past and her heartbreaking memories. Tom’s struggles with rejection and love are also a fruitful avenue for discussion. It’s a lightning fast read, so group members are more likely to finish it on time. It’s in a fresh setting and Hillman skillfully recreates rural Australia in the 1960s and early 1970s, both the physical landscape and the social mores. At times, it felt like a lighter version of the classic Australian novel, A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute, which also tells the story of characters finding love at healing in the Australian Outback after harrowing experiences during World War II.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.