The days of in between by Peter Valentine Fenton
Omnibus, 2019. ISBN: 9781760662523.
(Age: 10-13) Recommended. Toby decides to leave the family home, his Mum, brother and sister to live with his father and new stepmother Judy. He does this out of a strong feeling of loyalty to his Dad but is sad to leave his family behind. He is to have a holiday with his Dad and Judy in the family caravan in that gap summer in between leaving primary school and starting high school. Although he has looked forward to time at the beach with his Dad, nothing goes right from the moment they arrive at the caravan site. Judy and his Dad argue and leave, so Toby is left alone to find something to eat and to fend for himself.
He meets Tara who lives nearby and a new friendship develops.
Tara has issues with her own family, having lost her mother in an accident and she has to deal with her overprotective father.
Tara's father is a shark fisherman and a pivotal part of the novel is the incident on the wharf with a newly captured shark, which starts a series of events that have repercussions for everyone involved.
This novel is set in the late 1970's and for all of us who remember that time, Peter Fenton has captured many aspects of the era. The 'slip and slides', plastic strip curtaining and the latest game Space Invaders are all reminders of the time.
This is Peter Fenton's first novel and is an insightful look into growing up, family relationships and dealing with past 'ghosts'. Toby's Dad carries a huge burden from his time in the Vietnam War and Tara's Dad has to deal with the death of his wife.
Peter Fenton is best known for his past as a member of the band Crow and as an actor.
The cover painting of Toby and Tara looking out towards the sea is instantly recognisable as David Bromley's work.
I recommend this novel to 10 to 13-year-old readers.