Review Blog

Jun 19 2011

Swerve by Phillip Gwynne

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Penguin Books, 2009. ISBN: 978 0 14 3009337.
(Ages: 15+) The latest book by prominent Australian author Phillip Gwynn is Swerve. This book centres around an wealthy teenager from Sydney who, instead of preparing for an important cello audition, decides to take a road journey to Uluru from Sydney with his dying and recently reunited grandfather in a 1969 Holden HT Monaro. Along their journey Hugh and his Poppy move through a series of adventures as they navigate their way 'to the rock' with back packers, hitch hikers, drug dealers and the various unsavoury characters found in remote country towns of Australia. The drive begins as one long driving lesson for Hugh having just recently received his Learner's permit but becomes so much more of a lesson about the types of people outside his private school life in urban Sydney.
With Swerve, Phillip Gywnne has stayed clear of some of the cultural insensitivities associated with his first novels Deadly Unna? (1999) and Nukkin Ya (2000) to produce a well written and very engaging story based a very simple plot. As Hugh and his Poppy travel, they unravel their similar interests in many things including all things motor cars, as Hugh describes his ambition not to go in the foot-steps set out by his education and family expectations but to become a mechanic. In this respect, despite the fact that Poppy doesn't actually have a licence, Hugh learns much wisdom from his Poppy, not just how to drive. Swerve sets a fast pace which is enhanced by the constant reminder via text-messages and phone calls from home that Hugh really needs to get back to Sydney for his rehearsal in a week's time.
Swerve is recommended for readers 15 or older and contains some course language, violence and many illegal activities.
Adam Fitzgerald

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