The Earth Does Not Get Fat (Julia Prendergast, UWA Publishing)
Julia Prendergast’s first novel, The Earth Does Not Get Fat, is an almost verse-like narrative filled with poignantly described intimate thoughts and emotions. Teenager Chelsea has her hands full caring for a grandfather with dementia and a mother who is grieving for her lost son. She is working double time to sustain the demands of her family and find time for her own sorrow. Prendergast’s writing comes alive in her depictions of Chelsea’s inner voice. With a keen sense of empathy, she explores exactly what it must feel like for a young woman to carry this burden and still remain dedicated to her family. It is simultaneously engaging and heartbreaking. The scenes within the home, the loneliness of being capable at all times, and Chelsea’s hope for the future are portrayed with flair and tenderness. This is a compassionate novel that won’t necessarily leave readers feeling good, but will make them more aware of the cracks in society that many young people are facing.
Christine Gordon is the events manager of Readings and a former board member of the Stella Prize
(Correction: A previous version of this review incorrectly stated that Julia Prendergast is a New Zealand-born slam poet. Prendergast is a Melbourne-based academic.)