This is a fascinating work which evokes the historical setting of early 50s Sydney, via an 18-year-old girl’s introduction to ‘The Push’. It’s also a subtle exploration of the emotional pull between freedom and commitment. This is a riveting narrative in both its subtle ambiguity concerning character and motivation and for its skilful capture of 1950s Australia with such an unerring accuracy. It details one of those pivotal times (like the 1960s and the ‘flower children’ movement), in Australian society, except that the ideas of The Push were the often unacknowledged precursor to flower power. This little minority group in Sydney was experimenting with political, social and sexual freedom in the context of a very hidebound society. Erica’s friendship with Trish, Vanessa and Johnny will change her life forever. The writer makes no judgments but shows how her protagonist is drawn into this daring group and will have to make many sacrifices if she is to survive within it. The ending is left open and offers many resonances for teenagers today confronting similar choices.
I’m also giving the address at the Western Australian Children’s Book Council dinner tonight, at which 117 people are turning up. Not that I’m nervous, but I did have a dream all the guests were all in my house, which must have had Tardis-like qualities, as in its real-life dimensions we’d get to six people in the living room before we’d get to the sitting-on-laps stage.