PAST THE SHALLOWS.
Miles is old enough now to replace the gap left by Uncle Nick. Old enough to man the boat himself while his father and the other two men dive for abalone. They never found Uncle Nick’s body, just the dinghy.
This is not the life Miles wants telling his little brother, Harry, that he is lucky he gets seasick and that he will never have to work on the boat. It’s a hard life struggling to keep up with the bigger boats. Miles wants to build furniture like his grandfather, yet he feels trapped working for his father, taking care of Harry. He doesn’t know how to escape.
Harry is the youngest of three brothers, Joe is the oldest. The story is told from Harry and Mile’s perspective.
Both Miles and Harry struggle with the loss of their mother who was killed in a car crash. Harry, can barely remember her, trying to hold on to the vague memories that he has, the lady in the photos at home, more of a stranger than a mother. Miles, worries that his mother drove herself into the tree on purpose, this thought eating away at him. Like Harry his memories are blurry.
The father is severely depressed, slowly drowning in alcohol and despair. Taking out his sorrow and pain on his sons in the form of domestic abuse.
Parrett leaves the mother’s death clouded in ambiguity but scatters enough crumbs to leave the reader suspicious as to exactly what happened.
This is a novel about struggle. All family members are struggling with the loss of the mother. A struggle with life, paying the bills. Growing up, moving on. It is about the unbreakable bond and love between siblings. It is also about domestic abuse and violence.
The author’s biography says that Parrett loves surfing, and this passion is clearly shown in the beautifully descriptive writing. The waves, the surf, the water; beautiful, powerful, wild, and deadly.
In fact, the whole story revolves around the ocean. It is where the story starts, it is where the family work, it is where the boys surf, and it is also where the story ends. The ocean is almost a character itself, and by the end of the book the reader will find how apt the title is.
A wonderful debut.
In 2011, Favel Parrett's career was launched with her critically acclaimed debut Past the Shallows. A heart-breaking novel, it was sold internationally, was shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award. Parrett won the ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2012. Her next novel, When the Night Comes, was also critically acclaimed and further consolidated Parrett's reputation with booksellers and readers. Parrett's short stories have been published in various journals including Island, Griffith Review and Frankie Magazine. There Was Still Love her third novel was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and won Book of the Year at the 2020 Indie Book Awards. She lives in Victoria and is passionate about surfing, bushwalking, and dingoes.
There is a link here to cafeculture, with Parrett talking about the book -
MY RATING -