Summer Reading List: Shallow Breath

"How far would you go to save someone you love?"

Desi Priest returns to her seaside home after two years in prison.  What she did has polarized her friends and family.  Her daughter Maya is growing up without a mother, but she still feels Desi's influence when Luke, the town firebrand, begins bringing injured joeys to her caravan.  Pete, who has never stopped believing in or loving Desi, is still dealing with the consequences of supporting her.  He's had to give up working with the orang utans he loves to look after the woman he loves.  And her brother Jackson has met a girl who knows something that Desi does not.  Plus, everyone knows something more than they will say about the thing Desi did.

This is a complex novel with multiple plots, most of them revolving around human reactions to looking after animals.  There are dolphins, whale sharks, orang utans and elephants, all of their plights heart breaking and moving.  In fact, in some cases, their plights are more heartfelt than those of the human characters.  My one concern with this novel is that the two mothers in the novel, Hester and Marie, are two 2D.  Their stories are integral to the climax, but I feel too distant from them.  Their husbands, in particular Rick, are larger than life but the women fade in the background against the huge cast of characters.  My favourite character was Jackson.

Set on the coast in a Northern town near Two Rocks, this is a book which reminds me of the sea-loving work of Tim Winton.  As a lover of the ocean, it was brilliant to read this book on a hot summer day and feel as if I were floating in the water.  This book has a beautiful pace, and it is structured in such a way that as a reader you are constantly curious, asking "Why?", "What happened?" and then, tantalizingly, being pulled into flashbacks.

Give this book a go!

Three stars.