The Lost Child by Suzanne McCourt

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Text Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781922147783.
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Five year old Sylvie, growing up in a small coastal town south of the Coorong in the 50's, has a lot to contend with. The family is breaking up, her distant father is violent when drunk and her mentally fragile mother copes by obsessively cleaning. The good times are when her older brother Dunc and his friend Pardie let Sylvie join them fishing, collecting birds eggs or just reading superhero comics. Over the next ten years the family situation gets worse; her parents divorce, her home is burnt down and Dunc mysteriously goes missing. Sylvie endures trauma, bullying, rejection and self-blame yet she largely manages to channel her energy into positives like creative photography and excelling at school. She is a survivor. The landscape framed between the lagoon and the sea is a constant to draw strength from and as she negotiates puberty some of the pain from the past is resolved. This story will resonate with older South Australians familiar with the South East issues around draining the landscape and cray fishing and with events like the Queen's visit and oil exploration but as the narrative seeks to document the slow development of a child from first awareness to independence it can sometimes lose impetus. Connected with Hartnett's Thursday's Child or Dettman's Henry's Daughter it could be useful for senior students looking for texts about family trauma or small town issues.
Sue Speck