Deliberating his education and applying for scholarships to boarding schools in Adelaide, Sandy is an academic, an intelligent and sensitive young man burdened by the loss of his mother, his humility and sensitivity is nurtured by his father. Tom Douglas is a wonderful character and although the narrative centralises Sandy and Josh, their father is a prominent and affirming parent. Their relationship although occasionally turbulent, is tender and compassionate. A wonderful illustration of a father encouraging his children to become emotionally expressive rather than the patriarchal dominance of masculinity.
Since her passing, Josh has become destructive and argumentative, preferring the company of Ryan despite his father's disapproval. Josh is a character of contrasts. Although he appears resilient, he carries the burden of believing his mother's accident is his responsibility, manifesting as destructive behaviour. We also experience the societal expectations placed upon young men, in particular emotional expectations. Josh is argumentative and irate, resenting Sandy's achievements. Underneath his stoic facade, Josh is a young man grieving for his mother alone.
The Australian agricultural community of The Mallee is atmospheric and Charlie Archbold is an exceptional debut author. A dedication to rural communities throughout our sunburnt country.