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by Jim Anderson

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A journalist for 25 years in England and America, Anderson brings a masterful prose style to his first novel. The narrative is a remarkable evocation of the author's growing years in Australia during World War II. Lindsay Armstrong, aged 11, relates events generated by his parents, Jack and Lillian, who move the family from England to Billarooby, a remote community in the Outback. Although the reason for emigrating is never mentioned to the boy, Lindsay suspects it was an unspeakable act in his father's past. Jack is crude, a hard drinker, and Lindsay avoids him. He elects as a hero, instead, a Japanese soldier whom he glimpses during the prisoner's brief escape from a nearby camp. Empathy between the boy and the prisoners strengthens as he secretly visits the encampment and sees them brutally treated. Tensions in the community are exacerbated by a devastating drought and by incitements to riot when Jack and fellow racists make Billarooby a war zone. The climax crowns a novel about credible people, not one of them a minor character, as the author presents each with failings as well as qualities that augur hope for a better future. It is a story that will remain in the reader's memory. (April)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Having left England with his family after his grandfather's death, young Lindsay finds himself in the obscure reaches of Billarooby, Australia. Lindsay's father, himself implicated in the death, cruelly hints that his son was somehow involved. Dominated by this weak tyrant of a father, unprotected by his harried mother, and deeply suspicious of the boorish men of Billarooby, dreamy, delicate Lindsay is understandably intrigued by a book he finds on samurai warriors. He even goes so far as to see the Japanese inmates of the POW camp near town as inheritors of the samurai codeand thus possessing a sense of honor otherwise absent in his world. Raised in Australia, Anderson effectively conveys its ambience, particularly in his terse yet vivid dialogue. And though the writing does go on a bit, this first novel is ultimately a very fine study of a child's mind.Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''

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1st Fireside ed

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