Asylum

Asylum

by Isobel Blackthorn

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781922200228
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publication date: 05/20/2015
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.62(d)

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Asylum 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn is a work of women’s fiction. Although set in Australia, it’s a book that’s sure to speak to women everywhere. Twenty-nine-year-old Yvette Grimm reluctantly returns to the family farm in rural Australia after a ten-year absence, needing a place to regroup and lick her wounds after a terminated pregnancy and breakup that have left her devastated. She has left Malta and her lover, Carlos, who’s both a womanizer and a crook, for a reunion with a mother and sister with whom she has little in common. She’s in Australia on a holiday visa and it doesn’t look like she’s going to be able to stay in the country unless she marries someone. Unhappy and bored, she temporarily moves to a cockroach-infested flat in Perth which her friend, Thomas, has a lease on. Yvette finds a job in a café and although her life is better than it was living with her mother in the middle of nowhere, it’s lonely and far from ideal. Two good things come out of her move, however. The first is that she starts painting again and the second is that Yvette reconnects with her childhood best friend, Heather McAllister, who works in a car park across from the café. Yvette sorely longs for the child she had aborted and plunges recklessly into the world of online dating, which leads her to several one night stands that eventually leave her pregnant. Suddenly, Yvette is forced to take stock of her life and doesn’t like what she sees. At twenty-nine, she’s stuck in Australia on a holiday visa, living in a cockroach-infested flat in Perth, and is about to become a single mother. Not exactly a promising outlook, to be sure – but things are about to get a whole lot more complicated… Blackthorn’s main protagonist, Yvette, is someone many women can relate to. Coming out of a bad relationship, she’s at a loose end and doesn’t feel as though she fits in anywhere. She’s returned to a country that doesn’t really want her nor does she consider it her home, but it’s a place to escape to while she finds herself. She’s far from perfect and spends a good deal of her free time ruminating over her less than idyllic childhood. The author does a great job in making Yvette come to terms with those childhood memories as she is forced to grow up and take responsibility for her actions. With the challenges facing her, Yvette must also come to terms with and deal with the prejudices associated with asylum seekers as she also seeks asylum in a country that doesn’t really want her. Asylum is a solid story that deals with one woman’s journey to adulthood while underscoring the social and political injustices faced by those who don’t hold Australian citizenship. Although some of the language will be strange to non-Australian speakers, the story is nevertheless compelling and utterly relatable. Well worth the read.
TracyMJoyce More than 1 year ago
Isobel Blackthorn writes well and in the end I really enjoyed this book. I want you to read that first, because I’m about to tell you that I really didn’t like the main character. I struggled initially with this novel, mainly because I felt no empathy with the main character, Yvette. Let there be no misunderstanding, Yvette is a well written character – so believable that I developed a dislike for her. Yvette has experienced tragedy in childhood - a broken home and a violent father who ultimately leaves. She comes to Australia, on a tourist visa, to escape a relationship with a charismatic criminal she met in Malta. Once here she decides she wants to remain in the country. Apart from her childhood, Yvette’s disasters in life are largely self-inflicted. When the reader first meets her she is self-centred, wallowing in self-pity, unable to define herself without a man in her life and looks on the lives of others with derision. Yvette’s characterisation is excellent and I disliked her so much I wanted to stop reading. It is a testament to Blackthorn’s writing that I continued. Slowly, I could see the character evolving and I really wanted to find out how she would grow. Blackthorn takes a character with no personal insight and transforms her into a woman who begins to recognise her own folly and view those around her with more compassion. Yvette is a far more likeable character at the end of the novel than at the beginning. This transformation is done in an entirely believable way and, in the end, it was this that I really enjoyed about the book – the characters. Blackthorn weaves a lovely bunch of supporting characters into Yvette’s life – each with their own tangled little histories and tragedies. They are part of the catalyst for Yvette’s transformation and serve to show the myriad of ways people cope with their past in contrast to how Yvette deals hers. The only negative for me was that I found some sections of the narrative jarring. Commentary on the woeful predicament and fate of the asylum seekers in Australia came across as being the author’s voice rather than the character’s. I felt this could have been better integrated into the story. In fact, I felt there was unexplored potential in this regard. This is a novel that many will love. It is a tale of young woman learning to deal with her past, discovering her own worth and finding the strength to carve out a new place in the world. I ended up not being able to put it down until I had finished. Four Stars.