Review Blog

May 29 2014

The other side of nowhere by Steve Johnston

cover image

Hardie Grant Egmont, 2014. ISBN 9781742976907.
Looking forward to a sailing cruise to an island only three hours off an unspecified part of the Australian coast, teenager Johnno and his younger brother Matt journey by bicycle to the town of Shell Harbour to meet up with old friend and yacht owner Nick. Unknown to Nick, Johnno has organised for his cousin Georgina to join them on the venture and the awkward revelation at her arrival causes some embarrassment for all present.
A tension between Johnno and Nick is gradually revealed, based upon the fact that whilst the pair had been inseparable companions as youngsters, their friendship has changed since family circumstances led to Nick moving from the city, to live with his father on a farm.
The sailing trip had been an eagerly anticipated opportunity get together and enjoy adolescent male fun in the form of unsupervised boating and camping. Nick recovers the situation by accepting and making welcome Georgina and the group soon makes way. This follows warnings from Nick's father to make sure he heads immediately to the island to make safe anchorage prior to possible weather changes. The members of the group are very young and only two have sailing experience, causing the reader to query the wisdom of allowing the significant venture.
An unexpectedly vicious storm seizes the vessel and the crew shows courage and ingenuity to try and save the boat yet the situation becomes so overwhelming that they are glad to escape with their lives. Surviving the storm was harrowing but the group's ordeal continues on the island when they realise that no rescue is imminent, contrary to previous expectations, and their supplies of food and water are extremely limited.
All are hungry and exhausted and Johnno's anxiety is increasing from self analysis following his desperate actions during the storm. Seeking shelter, the group encounters threatening criminals and must apply themselves in extreme situations to try and evade them.
The angst of friendships which have been altered by time, changing circumstances and then tested by trauma, as well as fraternal rivalry and confused romantic yearning are important influences upon how the group deals with challenges and threats.
Rob Welsh

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