Fifteen-year-old Beth Teller is trying to help her father in his investigation into a mysterious fire and possible murder. She is worried about him as he seems depressed. The reason for dad’s preoccupation and sadness soon becomes clear, Beth has died in a car accident and he is grieving. She is visible to her dad as a ghost and can communicate with him, although no one else can see or hear. This is a story which explores grief, saying goodbye and the importance of family support, but other layers emerge as well. Set in small town Australia, exploration of the crime uncovers very dark stories of abuse linked to a local children’s home.
The story is told in two voices, that of Beth Teller and Isobel Catching both Aboriginal teenagers. Beth writes in prose and Isabel in free verse. Isabel’s nightmarish memories as a possible witness to the crimes gradually reveal dark secrets.
Written by a brother and sister team of Aboriginal writers this is a very unusual book. It is a thriller, murder mystery and ghost story with elements of racism and abuse. The plight of aboriginal communities after colonisation is suggested yet balanced in pride and celebration in their strength, culture and beliefs.
Despite the hard-hitting themes there is an element of hope within the narrative, you can overcome even the worst of experiences and find happiness again, ‘joy eats sadness.’ A challenging, moving and thought provoking read.