Author: Amanda Ortlepp
Amanda Ortlepp returns after the success of her debut, Claiming Noah, which we read for book club and I loved.
Running Against The Tide sees Erin pack up her sons and leave Sydney for the small town of Mallee Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, she remembered holidaying nearby as a child and the place holds happy memories – and it’s far from the mess that is her marriage.
The house is a little rundown, the town is a little small and Erin begins to wonder what she has gotten herself in for. Her teenaged sons are not thrilled with the move, Mike is happy to make the best of the situation but Ryan is not so accommodating.
Erin arrives in Mallee Bay with more emotional baggage than actual baggage and it is only slowly that events are revealed to explain her move to South Australia.
Her arrival also coincides with a run of oyster thefts and an arson that have fingers pointing in all directions but no real evidence backing up suspicions. The storytelling is compelling with some unexpected twists and enough red herrings to keep you guessing until the end.
The small town characters are engaging and I loved getting to know them. Erin’s neighbours are Jono and Helen, the elderly couple are friendly enough and have always lived in Mallee Bay; Jono is an oyster farmer who inherited the farm from his father. The couple are childless and getting to know them and their story is heartwarming and restores faith in love that lasts forever.
I feel like there are many different character types in the story and it was interesting to see the way they interacted, the way that different people brought out completely different sides to illustrate how multi-faceted most people are and how important it is not to judge on one persons opinion because you may bring out a different side to them.
Fifteen year old Ryan is quite a complicated character and the glimpse we get past his exterior completely changes the perception of him; and he was not the only character I came to question my perceptions of through the storytelling of the talented Ortlepp.
I was captured by the scenery and the characters of Mallee Bay; I wanted to keep reading to find out where we would be taken next. Some of the behaviour of characters didn’t sit right with me but it wasn’t enough to affect my enjoyment of the story.
Running Against The Tide was a compelling offering by Amanda Ortlepp that cemented my opinion of her as a must read Australian author. The book is a gripping tale of addiction, new beginnings, consequences and the danger of perceptions; a book that I enjoyed and would recommend to readers who like a suspenseful family drama.
Running Against The Tide is Book #3 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.
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