The World Beneath

( 3 )

Overview

Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age - although they?ve gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common these days is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian...

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Overview

Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age - although they’ve gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common these days is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian wilderness, his overconfidence and her growing disillusion with him set off a chain of events that no one could have predicted. Instead of respect, Rich finds antagonism in his relationship with Sophie; and in the vast landscape he once felt an affinity with, he encounters nothing but disorientation and fear.

Ultimately, all three characters will learn that if they are to survive, each must traverse not only the secret territories that lie between them but also those within themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Australian Kennedy's (Dark Roots) chick friendly debut novel, 15-year-old anorexic Sophie Reynolds comes of age in a fast-paced, well-observed study of family relationships. Sophie's mother, former hippie Sandy, trundles toward middle age with hennaed hair and a flagging jewelry business. Then Rich, Sophie's father, reappears to offer a week-long backpacking trip in Tasmania that Sophie sees as an opportunity to bond with her mysterious father, annoy her mother, and indulge her obsession with rigorous exercise. Rich, a deadbeat dad with a dead-end job, hopes to impress his wayward daughter with fancy hiking gear and borrowed music. But when he strays from the path without a map, stalking the perfect photo, he endangers them both. With Rich and Sophie missing, Sandy is forced to re-examine her life: her criticizing mother; her festering resentment of Rich; and her friends, who enjoy crises more than company. The pitfalls of nostalgia and the disappointment of everyday life contrast sharply with the ravishing Tasmanian landscapes Kennedy is excellent at painting, along with interpersonal terrain, but the novel wants to be more profound than it actually is. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In a small Australian town, Sandy muddles through life as an unemployed single mother pining for the heady days of her activist youth. Sandy frequently reminisces about her role in a famous 1980s environmental protest in Tasmania. Sophie, her troubled teenager, listens grudgingly because her mother's stories are a link to her estranged father, Rich, who met Sandy there. Unexpectedly, Rich invites Sophie to go bushwalking in Tasmania, and Sandy's worst fears are realized when the father-daughter trek goes dangerously wrong. Alternately narrated by an unflinching, angry Sophie and her hapless parents, this polished novel from Australian poet and short story writer Kennedy (Dark Roots) evokes a more lyrical version of Jodi Picoult. Kennedy particularly shines in her portrayal of the rocky relationship between Sandy and Sophie, hitting the reader with raw, heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious prose. Occasionally the narrative becomes bogged down by lengthy stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, but this is a minor flaw in what is otherwise a wise and graceful debut novel. VERDICT Sure to be a hit with fans of contemporary social fiction; Kennedy is an author to watch.—Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS
Kirkus Reviews

In this debut novel from Australian Kennedy (Dark Roots, 2008, etc.), a father takes his estranged daughter on a trek through the Tasmanian wilderness that proves spiritually, mentally and physically grueling, and not just for them.

Rich and Sandy met protesting the Franklin River Blockade, one of the most successful environmental protests in Australian history. Their marriage didn't last. Now their daughter Sophie has become a skinny, goth teen exasperated with her pot-smoking, New-Agey mother's nostalgia for her past activism. Having pursued nature photography in all corners of the globe, chased women to no real effect and now working as a TV video editor, Rich decides to reconnect with his daughter. What better way than to hike the wilderness he and his ex worked to save? Rich assumes, as only the absent father of a difficult teen could, that Sophie will be impressed. Out of defiance of her mother, Sophie agrees to go and Sandy reluctantly lets her. For distraction, Sandy takes off on a retreat to find her inner goddess. The hike is difficult, especially when Rich's new, unbroken-in boots begin to chafe. While Rich hobbles through miles of wilderness trying to impress his cynical daughter, Sandyhilariously searches for answers in meditation sessions and sweat lodges, where she instead encounters the disembodied voice of her disapproving mother. Rich must come to terms with the reality that he's not the outdoorsman—or, for that matter, the people person—he thought he was, a lesson that leads to potential catastrophe. Kennedy illustrates her characters' vulnerabilities through a series of power plays and dramatic reversals—Rich attempts to cut the trip short, but Sophie, with a contrary, stubborn nature not unlike her parents', insists they continue. Locked in mutual antipathy broken by bursts of sympathy, father and daughter move into increasingly dangerous territory.

An intricately written novel with an ironic eye for modern vulnerability in the face of a primordial wilderness.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781742148922
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/28/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Cate Kennedy’s short story collection Dark Roots, was shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and first serialized in The New Yorker. She lives in Victoria, Australia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing, Not Recommended

    I picked this up the same day as Bradford Morrow's great book, "The Diviner's Tale." Sadly, The World Beneath is not a good read. Only one of the characters is believable - Rich, the absentee dad. In his sections, the book comes to life. But the other characters are just too cliched, and the book never really takes off. Lots of strain evident in writing it, but no real lift to the reader in reading it. Try the Morrow book instead for a real reader's treat. "The Diviner's Tale" is a similar story to this one - an abandoned mother raising teen(s) - but the Morrow book is a well written classic, sadly The World Beneath is not in its league at all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    awsome

    best eva

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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