Big river, little fish by Belinda Jeffrey
UQP, 2011. Louis Braille Audio. 2011.
Read by Robert Alexander, 6 Cd's, 7 1/2 hrs.
Tom Downs, a young man born on the banks of the River Murray as his young mother died, knows the river is rising. It is 1956 in a sleepy community along South Australia's section of the river, where people not really accepted into the town live in shacks along the riverbank, where Aboriginal people are the first to be suspected of a crime, where Tom is tutored by the mother of his best friend Hannah as he is unable to decipher words and reading. When Tom's real father comes back into his life things are on a knife edge, his parents are unsure of what Tom will do, Hannah's father is suddenly killed on the road and Tom's Harley disappears. All these incidents are played out against the rising river, adding to the already taught tensions within the community.
In a story which reflects a small river town of the 1950's with humour and compassion, readers will follow Tom's story eagerly. The setting and characters are drawn with an honesty that is palpable, and the tale, redolent of the times is evocative, despite a few anachronisms.
Read by Robert Alexander, the humour is given full reign and his deliberate voice adds a resonance to the story which suits it well. Seven hours went along very quickly as I listened to the full story as it played out along the banks of the Murray River in 1956. For students wanting to hear an engrossing story, well told, they can not go past this excellent production, which I assume to be one of the last of the Louis Braille Audio books, a publisher that deservedly won many awards, and will be greatly missed. I'm very glad I now have a small collection of Louis Braille Audio books, which compliments that of my local library. For adults and students alike, the ease of putting a CD into the home or car system makes stories such as this easily accessible. Treasure them.