Review Blog

Mar 07 2012

Sydney Harbour bridge by Vashti Farrer

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Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978 174169 953 1.
Part of the My Australian Story series, Sydney Harbour Bridge tells the story of the construction of the bridge from the beginning of 1931 until its opening in 1932. The story is told in the form of letters and diary entries by Billy Thompson and Alice Carson. Billy comes from a working class area and Alice, a middle class area, both within sight of the bridge. The story conveys a real sense of the effects of the Depression on the people of Sydney in particular and Australia in general. It give a graphic account of how hard life was for people as well as a look at the politics of the day especially in the form of Jack Lang, the colourful and controversial Premier of NSW.
As the story progresses it gives a real insight into the background of the bridge and how it was constructed as well as the impact that it had both positive and negative.It shows that people were evicted from their homes often with little or no compensation at a time when it was becoming increasingly difficult for ordinary people to make ends meet.
The author has used alternating diary entries from Billy and Alice to good effect. As well as the history mentioned earlier the reader can identify with Billy and Alice and see the effect that the Depression has on them, their family and friends. The historical notes at the end help pull everything together and put things into an historical perspective. I am sure that it would encourage some readers to undertake further reading and research into this part of Australia's history.
David Rayner

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