Review Blog

Aug 02 2019

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany

cover image

Text Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925773415.
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: Abuse, Motor cars - Maintenance and repairs, Mechanics, Adolescent girls, Domestic violence. What a tense, unforgettable novel this is, difficult to read because of its subject matter but impossible not to return to, to listen to the voice of the young girl narrating her story and to wonder what the outcome could be. Father man moves in with the mother of a young girl and her brother. He runs an unlicensed mechanic's workshop on their property and is violent and abusive. The only way the girl can resist him is by sabotaging the cars that he is working on and by not speaking for 60 days.
Tiffany's prose is sparse and formatted in a very unusual way - short paragraphs that allude to the Holden workshop manual that she has taken from the workshop. It is a short novel, just 192 pages long, but big in its impact. Descriptions of the road trip that the family takes over thousands of kilometres for just three days at the seaside, take up much of the book and the insights that the unnamed girl makes are breathtaking in their poignancy. The girl doesn't name what is happening to her as such, short sentences tell the story and the reader journeys with her, not only on the road trip, but on her forbidden trips to the tip at night, and her dangerous drives in the cars that father man is repairing. She dreams of a softer relationship with the young man at the petrol station, but knows that father man has tainted that forever.
Tiffany's fine writing gives the reader a heartbreaking story of trauma, what it means to be female and the coming of age of a young girl. Book club notes are available from the publisher, and an extended, insightful review is available from Sydney Review of Books.
Pat Pledger

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