cover image The Fine Color of Rust

The Fine Color of Rust

P.A. O'Reilly. Washington Square, $15 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7816-1

O'Reilly's tale of a backwater Australian town seen through the eyes of Loretta Boskovic, who struggles to make ends meet and do good for her community, is hilarious and tenderly moving. The crusading and self-deprecating Loretta lives in the middle of nowhere and fantasizes about dropping her two recalcitrant children off at an orphanage, just in time for her studly savior to appear on his Harley and whisk her away into the sunset. We meet Loretta's quirky friends%E2%80%94such as her neighbor Norm, whose junkyard lawn is not the haphazard eyesore everyone thinks it is; and her best friend, Helen, who's got her sights set on the third grade teacher. When the government threatens to close the local school, Loretta cobbles together a resistance movement, and the resulting visit by the "Minister for Education, Elderly Care and Gaming" is as comic as it is affecting. Watching Loretta's children, 11-year-old Melissa and six-year old Jake, react to the unexpected appearance of their father and Loretta's ex, Tony, with his much younger girlfriend in tow, underscores O'Reilly's insight into fragile family dynamics. In the end, when a corrupt land-development plot is revealed and the disparate community pulls together to honor one of their newly deceased members, readers will see clearly why in this little corner of the world, even a little rust and dust is worth fighting for. (Sept.)