Review Blog

Sep 19 2014

Caro was here by Elizabeth Farrelly

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922244833.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. A short novel about 12 year olds and younger siblings taking an illegal afternoon off school and finding an unlikely adventure, and real danger, on deserted Goat Island in Sydney Harbor. Set in the modern world, the narrative is of an unexpected adventure with danger and salvation, friendship and jealousy.
The characters are quirky and all different, and there is much initial bickering, but, as all good stories do, this one sees the resolution of all conflicts, the revelation of the best of each of the characters, and finishes with all being well.
There is some significant danger in their escapade, and, while it is fun at first, it becomes evident that the young people are caught in a perilous situation with little hope of rescue, unless they solve the issues themselves. Which of course, like all good story-tellers, Farrelly has them do - and significantly reveals much about what the different characters.
The children are drawn well, and that is significant in enabling us to understand each one of them and what makes them who they are - indeed there are some very poignant moments in the revelations that endear us to each character. Family connections draw some together and poignant details of a spoiled rich girl who is barely loved and mostly ignored catch our empathy. All characters are finely drawn and altogether their story is very entertaining.
I would recommend this novel to early and middle adolescents as it is a rollicking good adventure. It could be rather scary for younger readers as there is the presence of real dangers, of being lost at night threatened by real criminals and illegal drugs, although this latter detail could be missed by younger readers.
Elizabeth Bondar

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