Review Blog

Apr 20 2018

The shepherd's hut by Tim Winton

cover image

Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780143786115
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. The voice in this novel is Jaxie Clackton. He is 17, ok maybe 15, and he is tough, and distrusting of everybody. And he has reason - his father, regularly drunk, beats him unconscious; his long-suffering mother has died; he has no friends; he is the kid always in trouble at school. The only person he cares about is his cousin Lee and she is far away from him. But whilst Jaxie cares about Lee, he is also secretly scared that maybe he's not good for her, he has the same temper as his father, he gets into fights, maybe their relationship would become the same as his parents, maybe it's in his blood.
A violent incident finds Jaxie suddenly alone, and there is nowhere else to go, but head north, across country on foot, to find Lee. Although he is tough, the country is tougher, and thirst, hunger and exhaustion lead him to a confrontation with another outsider, Fintan MacGillis, a man with a secret, condemned to living in complete isolation in the bush. Jaxie knows enough to never let down his guard, never trust, never give too much away. But need forces them into an uneasy relationship.
It is easy to get caught up in this story, Jaxie's voice is so real, so brutally honest, we know all his doubts and fears, and we are drawn into his conflict. The pace carries relentlessly to its terrible climax.
The shepherd's hut is yet another brilliant novel by Tim Winton; the characters are very real, you can hear their voices as you read the words, and you want to know what is going to happen. No hints about the ending, but it doesn't disappoint; you will be left thinking about it all after you've finished the book.
Helen Eddy

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