20 January, 2010

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was a re-read of one of Australia's excellent YA authors. I am pleased to say, it lived up to my memories - so many re-reads don't.

Hartnett's writing is subtle. The children in the Willow family - Edward, Michelle, Jordan, Oliver and Speck have a secret. It must be kept a secret from their father who is prone to fits of violent anger, especially against Jordan. Mum barely moves from her chair and the children are left to fend for themselves. Hartnett never openly states the secret, but you know - and it's not pleasant. The whole setting for the family is not pleasant and you want something to be done about it. But Bow, the outsider who discovers the secret is not who you want to discover it. He's not nice, not helpful and above all, arrogant and way to sure of himself and his superiority. The ending is shocking. It resolves one issue but leaves so much more unsaid.

Hartnett and other Australian YA authors such as John Marsden have been criticised for their books that leave issues unresolved or are unhappy. Personally, I think it's a good thing. Kids are not stupid. They know things don't always work out perfectly or work out at all.

I enjoyed re-reading Sleeping Dogs. Glad I can still see why it was controversial and while it's inclusion on any school reading list can cause issues. I'm looking forward to re-reading the rest of her stuff.

Started: 16/1                            Finished 18/1