Finding Kerra by Rosanne Hawke
Rhiza Press, 2018. ISBN 9781925563474
(Age: Teenager/Young Adult) Recommended. While this novel is aimed at an adolescent audience, it is also appropriate for adults in that it is a significant story showcasing both the advantages and disadvantages of living on a remote station in the Australian outback. Having met Blake Townsend at school in Adelaide, Jaime accepts his offer to visit his home during the school holiday break. We are immediately plunged into outback life when she is confronted by the snarling dogs that, she learns, 'are not pets' but working dogs - that is, not friendly. This touch of irony may well alert us to others being similarly unwelcoming, or at least initially unfriendly.
This smoothly told narrative is well-structured, tapping into the adolescent world and its potential to alienate those who may not fit in. Trying hard to match what she sees with what she has experienced growing up in Pakistan, Jaime is determined to embrace this chance to spend a few weeks in an emotionally safe place, after a terrible incident almost destroyed her on a recent visit to Afghanistan.
This is a 'good read' for adolescents and certainly an interesting read for adults. The world of the text is aptly drawn, the complications minor, but needing to be solved, and the outback as a 'character' is beautifully portrayed. The experience of 'being there' in the hot, dry, huge open spaces of Australia, that different world that so few of us actually experience, is for the protagonist, and indeed the reader, significant.