``While it was happening I watched the moon,'' begins this deeply affecting Australian novel about a 13-year-old girl who is raped by her father. Vicky Ferguson is met with denial, reprobation and evasion when she attempts to share her traumatic secret with grown-ups. So she runs away with her autistic, mute younger brother, James (who will later find his voice), taking a train from Adelaide to a place called Surfers' Paradise on Australia's Gold Coast. There this lost duo plunges into a subculture of plucky street kids. Vicky is at first so naive that she thinks the bordello where she finds work as a laundress is an old hotel, but her affair with a Chinese-Australian boy, her encounters with a lethal politician, a conniving journalist and sundry other characters soon expose her to a world in which few men ``have evolved past pack behavior.'' Luckily, a wizened old man nicknamed Xam (Max spelled backwards), fellow-lodger at a boardinghouse named Tibet, aids her emotional healing. Savage's prose is exquisite, her street-hardened characters are achingly real. (Apr.)
The author, an Australian, has written a novel that captivates the reader with its searing concerns and engaging characters. Set on Australia's Gold Coast, the story begins with young Vicky's rape by her father and her subsequent betrayal by her mother, aunt, and grandmother, who refuse to believe her. She then runs away, taking her autistic brother with her. Befriended by a group of street-savvy homeless kids who share tragic stories and survival tactics while on the run, the two cope surprisingly well. They eventually end up at the House Tibet, where a more mature Vicky is able to come to terms with her disturbing past and problematic future. Written in scintillating prose, peopled with memorable characters, and dealing with disturbing themes, this book is a resounding literary coup. This publication marks Savage's U.S. debut. Recommended for public library fiction collections.--Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.
YA-- As the book opens, 14-year-old Vicky's inebriated father rapes her. Worse than the horror and pain of the rape for this Australian teenager, or its denial by all her female relatives, is the realization that she no longer has a father. There can be no more happy memories of times spent together for their relationship is now destroyed. Knowing that no one believes her, and that she can't face the man, Vicky is forced to run away, taking her younger, autistic brother with her. They flee to a seashore town on the Gold Coast of Australia where other runaways befriend them. Vicky's healing process is aided by the friendship of an irascible old codger, the recovery of speech by her younger brother, and the sanctuary offered by House Tibet with its variety of lodgers. The richness and solidity of the writing offer a firm backbone upon which to construct this special coming-of-age tale. --Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA