Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it.
One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from a flooded creek. She takes him into her family home, where, marooned by floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. And without either of them realising it, he opens the door to a new world of possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep
‘They say every hero has to leave home, but what those first steps are like I’m yet to know’
Jessie Cole’s latest title is quite similar to her debut novel: an outsider’s life intersects with someone from a small town. The novel is very character-driven (again, much like Darkness on the Edge of Town) and allows the reader to seep into these characters’ lives unnoticed and observe their somewhat personal circumstances.
The story is subtly tragic – Mema’s growing desire for the stranger disturbs the reader because they know that they don’t quite fit and that it’ll never work out. They live two completely different lifestyles, and Mema’s isolation from society is highlighted even further when she saves the stranger. He’s obsessed with gaining access to his email accounts and his laptop, and Mema struggles to understand why those things are important to him.
The characters intersect at the right moments so that the reader doesn’t feel overpowered by the plot or character relations. And the development of character is gradual and graceful. The novel illustrates a comparison between two separate lives and details the resulting conflict when those lives clash.
At times, the pace of the story seemed to be slow and the characters seemed stagnant. But if you can get past that and appreciate the fluidity of the writing and the raw beauty of the characters, then you’ll enjoy this novel.
My Score: 8/10