Review Blog

Jun 20 2013

Hills End by Ivan Southall

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Text Publishing, 2013. First published in 1962. ISBN 9781922147004
Written in the perspective of alternating characters this tale begins on the morning of the annual Stanley picnic, the air is thick with excitement in an isolated mill village in Northern Australia. While preparing to leave, seven children opt to stay behind and lead their solitary teacher up to the bluff where Adrian, the mayor's son, claims to have seen some Aboriginal cave drawings. However when the children and their teacher Miss Godwin are exploring the cave they are caught in a fierce storm which lay havoc to their village and kills the only other adult left behind. The storm destroys all of the bridges which were the only access points to the town. Having become separated from their teacher the children wallow in their fears until they collectively decide to return to the village. Timber and corrugated iron roofing litter the streets and the frightened children must learn to adapt in order to survive. Sharing what little knowledge they have between them they work together to battle their fear and their pride until the adults can return.
Ivan Southall's classic novel Hills End is one novel which I, previously, had not had the pleasure to be acquainted with. After reading the novel I understood that this novel set the groundwork for John Marsden's later novel Tomorrow when the war began.
The novel introduced the characters of the children and Miss Goodwin in an unobtrusive manner and continued to craft them throughout; this makes the characters seem more realistic and much more engaging for the audience. I would highly recommend this novel for both children and adults as the vivid imagery which Southall creates is something which is not as prominent in today's literature. I believe that it is important for young people to read books like this as they encourage a love for the written word, something which is often neglected these days.
Kayla Gaskell (Aged seventeen)

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