COWLEY, Joy Dunger Gecko Press, 2013 156pp NZ$19.99 pbk ISBN 9781877579462 SCIS 1625085

When Melissa and William are not allowed to go to Queenstown with their friends at holiday time for financial reasons, they are devastated.  It is even worse when the 14 and 11 year old are asked to go with grandma and grandpa to their old dunger of a bach deep in the Marlborough Sounds!  They refuse, but when offered $1000 each to help their grandparents restore the bach, they reluctantly agree (with aspirations for ipads and the like).

Through the use of contrasting narrative voices, we share their journeys of discovery, warts and all.  Generational and gender differences are writ large in this almost poetic evocation of bach life, as the 1970s are re-visited.  The contrasting structure of the plot reiterates that truth that perspectives are shaped by a variety of influences: memories, gender expectations, historic period, and age factors.  However, what is truly evoked here is the sense of the countryside and coastline as place (neatly being contrasted with the city space and contemporary technologies).  There is a dramatic event that changes our young city-goers that reminds both them and us of the power of relationships, despite all the differences.  Recommended.  JMcK

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