Big Thursday Anne Brooksbank

Standard
Paperback, 276 pages
            Published        January 30th 2013         by Penguin Books Australia

Nat’s family is in crisis. His father, Luke, has been called to account for some serious errors of judgment in his professional accountancy role and has been ordered to undertake weekend detention along with serious financial redress. His mother, Rachel, is finding it difficult to handle the loss of their family home along with many of their possessions and what is even harder, their respect and status within their community.  His younger sister Hannah and little brother Toby are finding it difficult to adjust to living in a caravan park rather than their large house.

Nat doesn’t mind the new caravan home and its proximity to the beach. It means it is even easier for him to catch some waves when he’s not at school. His passion for surfing has been nurtured his whole life by his dad who was, in his time, a champion competition surfer. Somehow the rollercoaster of emotional upheaval is easier to deal with when he’s riding a good wave. Discovering that Grace, a long time schoolmate but recently acquired friend, is equally passionate about surfing – albeit far more accomplished than he – also helps him to deal with his emotional state.

Just as the dust seems to be settling a little as they all adjust to their vastly different circumstances, a new crisis develops when Luke’s mental health causes him to be seriously injured. Nat’s mum feels unable to sustain the family situation as it is and, in desperation, relocates Nat and his siblings to Tasmania and her parents’ guesthouse.  While Nat desperately misses his friends, and particularly Grace, it is his dad he is most anxious about and taking matters into his own hands manages to travel back to his home to ensure the safety of his loved father and ultimately save his family from a complete breakdown.

Brooksbank has captured the anguish and turmoil of a family in extraordinary circumstances beautifully. The characters are well drawn and so utterly believable and authentic.  Highly recommended for readers about 12 years old and up – particularly grommets!

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