The big dry by Tony Davis
HarperCollins, 2013. ISBN: 9780732297633.
(Age: 12-14) Highly recommended. The harsh drought-stricken landscape totally dominates the lives of thirteen year old George and his younger brother Beeper. They are desperately trying to survive after their father fails to return from a shopping trip. Blasters, strong destructive winds, cause havoc, buildings crack and crumble, invasive red dust seeps into the houses and water is scarce. In this dystopian environment that has lasted for years, people have developed violent survivalist skills, selling water, stealing food and turning in abandoned children to the Welfare Authorities.
George and his brother decide to leave the safety of their house and search in vain for their father. On their return a strange girl has invaded their space and threatens their very existence. She is more worldly wise and has developed skills of self protection. Emily challenges their thinking and confronts George's distorted view of reality. Their reclusive neighbour Mr. Carey and the rabbitoh man also aid in the boys' survival.
Powerful imagery and a driven plot take the reader on a journey through a tough reality. Measured phrases, gritty internal dialogue and unanswered questions add to the tension of the author's narrative.
I would highly recommend this novel for readers 12-14 years of age. As a class novel, students could discuss the impact of the climate change and drought, the development of survival skills and the need for self preservation.
Read this novel with a glass of fresh cool water, valuing each drop!