The attack by Catherine Jinks

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Jinks has written a taut thriller with a plot unlike any I have read before. Written in two time-lines, 2009 and 2019, the author takes the reader on a suspenseful trip into the past and the present as Robyn Ayres, a caretaker on Finch Island, recognises a boy from her former life as a teacher. A group of vets run a tough-love program for disturbed teens at the camp and a boy named Darren catches her eye. She spots him as the child, named Aaron, who was at the centre of a vicious custody case when she was his teacher. Things did not go well for her at the school, mainly because of Aaron’s vindictive grandmother, and Robyn is left wondering why his name has been changed and what will the consequences be for her if he recognises her.

Jinks builds up the tension as the narrative switches from 2009 to 2019. In the 2009 classroom the child throws tantrums and is uncontrollable. Robyn finds herself caught between Aaron’s inept mother and his terrifying grandmother. I found myself holding my breath wondering what was going to happen to both Robyn and Aaron. Meanwhile on Finch Island, which was once a leper colony, Robyn faces nasty pranks and the danger surrounding her builds to a crescendo at the final assembly.  Is it the boy now called Darren who is threatening her and will she get safely out of the mess that seems to be her life?

There will be triggers for teachers reading this – difficult children in both the classroom and on camp – but it is a story that can’t be put down. An interesting article about cross-genre writing by Jinks can be found here. Readers who were gripped by The attack may want to read her other recent books for older readers, Shepherd and Shelter.

Themes: Psychological thriller, Disfunctional families, Troubled children.

Pat Pledger