Name of Book: Cargo.
Author: Jessica Au
Publisher: Pan McMillan Australia
Jessica Au’s first novel is a literary Puberty Blues – a seaside coming of age story. Cargo depicts three teenagers located in one summer on a fictional beach, whose stories touch each other but never quite weave. Frankie, Gillian and Jacob each have problems: Frankie with her ill, pregnant mother and uncertain friendships, Gillian the one-legged swimmer with her paean to life and the sea, and Jacob fighting his brother’s shadow to find selfhood.
Like much literary fiction, the plot is limited and the characters are profound and sombre rather than quirky or exuberant. However, Au’s clear writing welcomes the reader in, and we engage with Frankie, Gillian and Jacob in their explorations of trying to grow into themselves and recognise their own adulthood. Cargo is accessible literary fiction.
Whether you are pleased or disappointed, this young adult novel contains no vampires, paranormals or explosive action scenes, and the real magic is in Au’s evocative descriptions of the changing moods of the ocean, an iconic setting for Australian coming of age stories.
The publisher’s blurb describes this book as ‘by turns heart-wrenching, beautiful and explosive,’ and many readers will agree.
Recommended for young adults, particularly those interested in literary fiction.
Note: This review was published by Maryanne Ross (me) in The Ballarat Courier February 2, 2012.http://www.thecourier.com.au
Also posted on Goodreads www.goodreads.com