Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
Do you remember the moment you came of age? The time when innocence was lost and suddenly you were viewing the world without the rosy view of childhood? M.O. Walsh explores this theme in My Sunshine Away. Here’s the blurb:
‘I should tell you now that I was one of the suspects. Hear me out. Let me explain . . . ‘
One hot evening in the summer of 1989, fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson cycles home through the wide, empty streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her hometown is a place of cookouts on sweltering afternoons, iced teas and crepe myrtle trees heavy with red and purple blossoms. Lindy is just yards from her parents’ house when she is knocked to the sidewalk and raped.
No one saw anything and the police draw a blank. The traumatized community does its best to rebuild and move on.
But one fourteen-year-old boy is sure there are answers still awaiting to be found – out there on the swept and empty porches, by the lawns steaming in the early morning sun, under the newly broken street lamp. Secretly in love with Lindy and fascinated by her ordeal, he is drawn onward in a search for truths that may be better left buried.
A haunting coming of age tale, My Sunshine Away is a slow-moving, subtle read that will appeal to those who like the feeling of listening at the feet of a storyteller. The narrator looks back on his youth, describing events leading up to and after the rape of one of his childhood friends. There’s the sense that he’s holding back information until the end, that he wants the story to be told properly, rather than giving the answer and then trying to backtrack. As he tells his version of events, the reader sees how the event affected not only the teenage victim, but the community she lived in. It’s a beautifully rendered loss-of-innocence story that reminded me a little of Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones.
Available from good bookshops (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Penguin Books Australia.