One Would Think the Deep (Claire Zorn, UQP)
When Sam calls his Aunty Lorraine for the first time in seven years, it’s to tell her that his mum, her sister, is dead. It’s also to tell her that he has nowhere else to go. Sam’s move to live with his aunt and cousins, Minty and Shane, takes him away from his city home and throws him into the deep end of a life that revolves around the surf. Claire Zorn’s third novel has all the trademark complexities of her first two novels: her characters are intricately, beautifully flawed, and she is an expert at navigating the complex relationships between teens and the adults that surround them. Sam’s grief fuels a rage that he’s ashamed of, and he lashes out as a way of giving direction to his pain. His character is vivid and real, and this book is rich with the nuances of both his internal suffering and his external relationships with a family he barely knows. One Would Think the Deep is perfectly placed in 1997, but the teenage voice resonates with contemporary authenticity. Zorn has proven, again, that she is a writer who feels deeply the complex emotional lives of teenagers, and is not afraid to lay them bare.
Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer, schools coordinator for the Stella Prize and chair of LoveOzYA