Small town - big issues

Goodwood – Holly Throsby

Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2016 by Allen & Unwin

A small country town in Australia, two missing people within a week and everyone is walking on eggshells. Told primarily through the eyes of Jean, a teenager in the town, we come to know the characters and secrets of the town.

I found myself in two minds about this story. The first half showed a great deal of promise, Jean and her friend Georgia were curious, engaging and certainly knew all the gossip about town. With the disappearance of Rosie, the two teenagers do quite a bit of theorising about what happened and when Bart the butcher also goes missing the two go into overdrive.

It is through Jean we meet the characters of the town and they are a group of people you would find in every single Australian country town. Yet by the halfway point of the novel the mystery of the two missing people had been pushed to the background as Jean struggled with her identity.

It is the second half of the story where I am somewhat disappointed with the pathway to solve the mystery. There was a change of character point of view to reveal the truth in a couple of the chapters. I am not sure that it worked effectively.  Plus many of the characters drifted away and were left somewhat unresolved.

Having said that there are some wonderful characters where your heart aches for them. Throsby highlights that while everyone thinks they know what everyone is doing in a small town there is also little appetite to become involved. This is especially so with domestic violence.

Throsby is certainly a talented writer and has crafted an engaging novel with some interesting characters.  She has great pacing and really did capture the uniqueness of a small Australian town. It is a strong debut novel and Throsby certainly has a way with words.

For more information on Holly Throsby's writing and music check out her website.