Digging to Australia

Lesley Glaister, Author Atheneum Books $19 (214p) ISBN 978-0-689-12162-3
Dangerous secrets and sinister undertones power this uncommon coming-of-age tale. Writing with authority about adolescent insecurity, British author Glaister ( Honour Thy Father ) invests her theme with dramatic resonance, giving her slightly misfit antiheroine some responsibility for a final tragic event. When introduced, 12-year-old Jennifer is preoccupied with digging a tunnel in the garden of her English hometown. She imagines digging straight through to Australia, and thus escaping the dull life she leads with Mama and Bob. Soon after Jennifer commences this project in distancing, Mama drops a bombshell: Jennifer is not their daughter but their grandchild, born to their since-banished daughter. This announcement increases Jennifer's sense of alienation; she begins spending her free time in an abandoned church with a squatter named Johnny. More intrigued than frightened by Johnny's erratic disposition, Jennifer overlooks his possible role in the disappearances of local girls. But then her fantasies and ostensibly innocent lies take on some real consequences, which she must face. Glaister is a shrewd observer of domestic minutiae as well as emotional nuances. A masterful play of dark foreshadowing, the novel grips the reader's emotions as it moves to a haunting conclusion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 334 pages - 978-0-7862-0031-3
Open Ebook - 214 pages - 978-1-4719-1297-9
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