Salt Rain

Sarah Armstrong, Author . MacAdam/Cage $22 (218p) ISBN 978-1-59692-173-3

Fourteen-year-old Allie Curran mourns the death of her mother, Mae, and longs to discover the identity of her father in this sparely written but emotionally tumid debut novel from Australian Armstrong. When Mae goes missing from her Sydney house, her clothes found piled neatly in her dinghy, drifting in the water for three nights, Allie's aunt Julia fetches her niece back to the smalltown dairy farm where Mae grew up. While they await the recovery of Mae's body—with Allie in denial—Allie summons the courage to speak to her mother's first love, the mysterious Saul Philips. Mae raised Allie on wistful tales of Saul, and Allie still wonders if he might be her father, despite her mother's version of events: that a hot-air balloonist at the country fair seduced and abandoned her. But as Allie settles in to life on the farm, she admits to herself the facts of Mae's death and discovers that the truth of her parentage is far darker than what she had imagined. The novel's setting, a rainy farming valley in northern Australia, makes for effective atmosphere, but the backward-looking narrative moves slowly, mired in Allie's memories of Mae. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/13/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-1-74114-369-0
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-385-66407-3
Open Ebook - 978-1-59692-834-3
Paperback - 218 pages - 978-1-59692-218-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-385-67226-9
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