Book Club: Sixty Seconds

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Author: Jesse Blackadder
ISBN: 978-1-4607-5424-5
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Jesse Blackadder has written a heartbreaking exploration of grief and loss that is sure to tug the heartstrings.

Sixty Seconds is the amount of time it took to tear apart the foundations of a family and leave them floundering in a tumultuous sea of grief and rage and loneliness.

I found Sixty Seconds to be a book that I didn’t want to put down, I had to keep flicking pages to find out what happened next; but when I did put it down it often took a while for me to pick it back up. I knew that I had to be in the right place to invest myself in the story, and hopefully have more than a few snatched minutes to read. This story was heart breaking, as a mother it physically hurt my heart to read at times so I needed to psych myself to pick it back up knowing that it was going to hurt.

This is another one I’m struggling to review without spoilers because the blurb is pretty ambiguous.

The Brennans leave Tasmania for subtropical Murwillumbah, leaving behind all of their family and friends; everything that they know. They trade the cooler climes for sun, surf and a fresh start. They have brought Bridget’s ailing mother and moved her into a nursing home close by.

The family are getting settled and adjusting to the new routines when tragedy strikes and this is where the bones of the story lie. Sixty Seconds is the aftermath of the tragedy, the events that follow and the way the family learn to move forward.

Blackadder has written a story that is close to her heart and it is a story that has touched the lives of too many families. A story that I don’t ever want to come near my family but through it all I couldn’t help but think how easily it could. It is a story that is too common in Australia and it needs to be discussed, it needs to be in everyone’s minds so that we can all be vigilant and stop this happening to more families.

I really did find myself invested in this story and its characters. The story is told alternately by Bridget, Finn and Jarrah. We get inside their heads as they war with the tragedy that has hit the family and left them with no way to see the end of the road.

When tragedy strikes we often feel the need to lay blame, we need somewhere to direct the pain and the rage; even if it’s just to push back the emptiness for a little while. In the wake of a heartbreaking tragedy when the family should be pulling together and leaning on each other for strength they find they are drifting further apart, alone in their agony.

I found the characters relatable and realistic in their grief, their desire for someone to hold accountable. The Brennan family were vividly drawn and we got to know them well, though I didn’t quite get a clear understanding of Jarrah, I am left with some questions when it comes to him but thinking about it now… that may be because he still has those questions. They aren’t things he understands about himself yet.

In the aftermath of the tragedy we meet the people who offer much needed support in navigating the grief, and most of the cast have tragedy and loss in their lives so they can offer understanding or are there looking for some closure for themselves.

Tom is the handyman who is employed to do a couple of jobs around the house but the role he ends up filling is much more important. He is a little older than Jarrah but he has an intuitive understanding of what it is he needs and offers a run or some time just hanging out. He is a character we know has suffered loss but we don’t get to know him well.

All of the secondary characters along the way are drawn just well enough to understand their position in relation to the Brennans and in that they have the depth to be understood but we don’t really know them as people away from the Brennans, at times I thought there could have been a little more fleshing of those characters.

This is a book that broke my heart, partly because of the tragedy within it’s pages and partly because of the resonance it had to people I know. Yes, it’s tragic and heartbreaking but Blackadder took us far enough from the event that we saw the Brennans through the initial stages of grief and into the stages of healing. Blackadder drew us through the agony of heartbreak and back to a place where there is once more some light, some hope and some ability to see a future.

Jesse Blackadder explores themes of grief and loss and the long road to forgiveness alongside all of the other issues life throws at us; dementia in aging parents, bullying and finding your place as a teen, sexuality, first love, indiscretions in marriage and the many stages of grief.

Sixty Seconds is book #41 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Jesse Blackadder can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and her website.

Sixty Seconds is published by HarperCollins and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to HarperCollins 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Sixty Seconds so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.


15 thoughts on “Book Club: Sixty Seconds

  1. Jesse Blackadder’s Sixty Seconds is such an emotive story, it’s hard to fathom the pain of losing a child.

    The story centres around the Brennan family who have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

    Environmentalist Bridget, artist Finn and their two sons have moved from Tasmania to the sub tropics of the Tweed area in northern NSW. The sea change was prompted by some family issues back in Tassie, ones that can’t easily be forgotten.

    Eldest son Jarrah, a somewhat sullen and outcast teen, still isn’t too sure about his new home town, so he busies himself with looking after the light of his life, toddler brother Toby.

    But something terrible happens to Toby and this fragile family will either fall apart or grow stronger together over their loss.

    The best thing about this book is the characters. I think any family can see a little bit of themselves in the Brennans. While this story is heartbreaking in some ways, the way the Brennans cope with their devastation makes it worth the ride.

    Jesse Blackadder has captured a difficult topic and made it readable, enjoyable and a story that will keep you entwined.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Sixty Seconds and I’ll be looking for more of her work in future.

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to review this book. It was hard to put down at times and sees the reader move through the emotions of the characters. This book was almost poetic in parts, such descriptive yet beautiful writing that it was a true pleasure to read. The words came alive on the page and yet the content was so compelling.

    I found it fascinating reading the authors personal experience at the back of the book, it gave an insight into how this book came about and explains just how much went into the crafting of this book. Given the content of this book, it’s a hard read if you have young children, however it’s a nice reminder of the fragility of life and a reminder to enjoy the little moments.

    I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction, especially books that dive into the inner workings of families.

  3. This movie broke my heart but it also shows you how quickly things can change.. ‘in sixty seconds’

    Was very well written and I would recommend it to friends

  4. What a fantastic book. I could not put this down as was just fascinated to see where the story would take me. I really loved the characters even though I got frustrated with Bridget’s at times but after going through a tragedy like that, her state of mind was understandable. I especially liked Jarrah in particular. So much to go through at such a vulnerable age, his story really touched me. I thoroughly enjoyed the telling of the story from different perspectives as found it so interesting to see how differently people cope with the death of a child. A very well written book that although was a heartbreaking read, I can’t praise it and the author enough. Thank you Beauty & Lace as well as Harper Collins for allowing me the privilege of being able to read this book. I will be recommending it highly and looking out for further books by Jesse Blackadder.

  5. Finn and Bridget, and their sons Jarrah and Toby, have moved to Murwillumbah from Hobart, seeking a sea change. Not long after they move, tragedy strikes the family, in their own backyard.

    I found myself becoming quite emotional as I read this book. I really felt for Finn, Bridget and Jarrah as the tragedy unfolded, and in the aftermath. I found myself connecting with each of them in different ways.

    The fact that the author experienced this tragedy herself makes her writing all the more commendable and relatable. The emotional charge of this novel is drawn from the writer’s own grief and experience, and I found myself not only empathising with the characters, but the author as well.

    I barely put this book down once I started reading. It’s one of those stories that once you connect with it, you can’t really leave it. I ended up spending a few days processing it because of how powerful it is.

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