The Middle of Nowhere

(3 reviews with an average rating of 4 out of 5)

Publisher: Usborne

Life in the Australian outback is hard enough, but when a deadly snake in the laundry basket kills her mother, Comity Pinny finds herself in a whole new type of wilderness. As her father retreats further into his grief, burying himself into his important telegram work she turns to the yard boy for friendship. Skinny little Fred is a storyteller by nature and delights Comity with his Aboriginal tales. Whilst she was raised to see through the cultural divide the other workers at the station do not approve of the mix, and when a new employee arrives with a crystal-topped cane and a cruel eye for sport, Comity’s home becomes as dangerous as the landscape. A shocking sequence of blind-eyes and dead bodies leads to a hot mess of mistruths and miscommunication culminating in an unforgettable cinematic climax.

Geraldine McCaughrean writes a superb sentence, and they come thick and fast in The Middle of Nowhere. Comity is a wonderful heroine, good-natured and forgivably naïve she is immediately endearing as is spirited Fred whose sparkling idiolect practically dances off the page. It is a fresh and original setting and the technical details of the telegram procedure add genuine interest. The consequences of Comity’s mistake gather momentum like a sandstorm, whipping up more and more problems and ultimately endangering everything she holds dear. It is a heart-stopping showdown to a beautifully played out drama and another perfect example of McCaughrean’s masterful storytelling. 

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