Rainfish (Andrew Paterson, Text)
Debut middle-grade novel Rainfish is set in the 1980s during the uncomplicated glory days of Transformers and Star Wars, when ‘being offline’ meant you left your phone off the hook. The reader, however, is hooked from the get-go, immediately drawn into the protagonist’s world. Aaron lives with his mum and older brother in a nondescript town in northern Queensland. With his mum at work and his brother always reading, Aaron is lonely and a bit bored on the summer school holidays. He runs into an older boy, Damon, whose bad influence and approval outweighs Aaron’s conscience. Together they commit an offence that has significant ramifications within their tight-knit community. Excellent storytelling abounds in Rainfish: the plot flows easily, resulting in a lovely leisurely pace throughout, and the characters are well rounded—Aaron’s mum is strong and realistic, and the sibling relationship between Aaron and his brother has the right amount of one-upmanship. Aaron himself is a personable and wryly observant narrator. This book, by first-time author Andrew Paterson, will appeal to kids aged 10 and up wanting a simple but imaginatively written story that they can relate to, regardless of the era in which it is set. Rainfish is one of those books you don’t want to end but at the same time do, only to be sure the story concludes the way you hoped it would.
Katie Haydon is a library officer in Geelong and a former assistant editor of Books+Publishing. Read her interview with Andrew Paterson about Rainfish here.