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.

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15 thoughts on “Book Club: Sixty Seconds

  1. Thankyou to Beauty and lace and HarperCollins Publishers for the opportunity to read Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder.

    I started reading this book with a lot of nervousness , because you know something tragic is about to happen to a child.
    Fortunately the tragedy occurs in the early chapters of the book.
    The story is told by Finn ( father), Bridget ( mother) and Jarrah ( brother).
    It is a book that gets you in and you can not put it down! You feel the families pain as you follow their journey through grief, guilt, incomprehension as to how the accident happened. The relationships are complex. To forgive is hard.
    As the title says ” Sixty Seconds” , that is all it takes for your life to irrevocably change! It is a reminder and wake up call to us all to not take for granted and to be vigilant.
    Thoroughly recommend! A must read book!

  2. Thank you to the Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for the opportunity for me to read this heart breaking book.

    The title “Sixty Seconds” is apt as 60 seconds is all it can take for lives to be lost and changed forever. This is the story of a family of 4 whose lives were changed forever when a family tragedy occurs and the family is now a family of 3.

    I found this to be a heart breaking book but one I couldn’t put down. Its the story of tragedy, grief and acceptance and one I would recommend for others to read.

    This is the first book I have read by Jesse Blackadder who writes from the heart as she had the same tragedy happen in her family many years ago. I really enjoyed her writing style, I look forward to now reading more of her books in the future.

  3. I was drawn to Sixty Seconds as it was set in Murwillumbah, close to where I spent many idyllic years growing up
    The attraction went further though in this book by Jesse Blackadder
    This is a story of a family tragedy, of lives changed forever, of human relationships, of forgiveness and moving forward
    While there are sad elements, it is not a sad book as such.
    I enjoyed seeing one event and its impact on the different characters. This is the story of the Brennans who move from Tasmania to Murwillumbah in northern NSW for a fresh start. As the title suggests, their life is changed in sixty seconds.
    I would highly recommend this book. Rather than simply being a tragedy, it is a celebration of humanity
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this heartwarming novel

  4. Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder is a story of the Brennan Family, dad Finn, mum Bridget and their two sons Jarrah and Toby.

    I knew that there was going to be a tragedy but not quite so soon into the story, but it did set the scene that tragedy can happen in sixty seconds as the books name portrays. The story deals with the accidental drowning of a toddler in a back-yard swimming pool and the events that the Brennan family go through and how it can change lives so quickly forever.

    I had real feelings for the Brennan’s when I was reading this book and could feel the tragedy myself with the way Jesse Blackadder took us on the journey of the family from when they moved from Tasmania to Murwillumbah in northern NSW for a fresh start. The story takes you on a journey of grief, healing, forgiveness and getting your life back on track.

    This is not a story to be taken light heartedly and reinforces that we all need to be vigilant as lives can be so easily changed in just sixty seconds.

  5. Sixty Seconds is all it takes for a family of four to become a family of three. Parents Finn and Bridget have two wonderful children. Jarrah, who is navigating the difficult world of adolescence and little Toby, a bright, gregarious toddler. This tight little family has upped and left Hobart to start fresh in Murwillumbah. They are all adjusting to this sea change and trying to forget the reasons they left Hobart to start afresh.

    A sudden tragedy occurs which cracks the foundations of this normal Australian family. Loneliness, guilt, resentment, blame and lies weave there way into this family dynamic. Is the love that is left enough to see them through?

    I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll focus on Jesse Balckadders writing. I am aware that a tragedy in Blackadders past was the trigger for this novel and wonder if that’s why there is such sensitivity and respect with the handling of the main characters. The descriptive prose drew a picture of the family home so clear, that I could clearly imagine the garden, the layout of the home and the workshop where Finn worked on his metalwork sculptures. I found the book an addictive read and my heart, in particular, reached out to Jarrah as he navigates not only the confusing and scary world of adolescence, but also a family on the brink of crumbling completely.

    4 out of 5 from me. An engaging read.

  6. Wow what a gripping heartbreaking novel this was. I knew before reading it that it would be tough but was drawn to it regardless. I couldn’t put this book down even though it had me on edge. I found it was a great insight into what the grief of losing a child would feel like. It inspired me to not stress the small stuff as much (being pregnant with my 4th makes that tough but hormones aside I’m going to try harder not too). I’ve always said I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose a child and now I have had a glimpse.
    The characters were normal everyday people and very relatable and to go on this journey with them was hard. I loved every page of this book and will be recommending to my fellow book loving friends. Not a book for the faint hearted though.
    5/5 stars from me
    Thank you Jesse Blackadder and Beauty & Lace for this amazing read x

  7. Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder is a WOW book…..totally unputdownable and one of the best reads for me of 2017.
    Finn and Bridget Brennan along with their children Jarrah and Toby have made the sea change from Hobart to Murwillaubah. As they all try to adjust from the cold climes of Hobart to the subtropical of their new home, new jobs, school and life in the new purple weatherboard they have purchased tragedy strikes.
    After tragedy come the questions – what happened and who is to blame?
    As Finn tries to protect his family and take the blame, the family starts to fall apart. Bridget turns towards her workmate, Chen and Jarrah already struggling with the onset of adulthood looks for answers with his girlfriend Laura and friend Tom.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thank Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins Australia for allowing me to read this totally enthralling and engaging book.

  8. Sixty seconds Jesse Blackadder Harpercollins The book sounds very interesting and it certainly quickly outlines the characters, and the tragedy happens early in the piece, surprisingly so. It felt so sudden, you were set up to really love the boy and then bang. The rest of the story carefully draws on all that happens after, in the analysis, the interelationships. The characters are strong but I did not always understand them I think, and sometimes that meant I put the book down for a while. I can see many people enjoying the book and the journey it takes them on.

  9. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this.
    I had not read any of Jesse Blackadder’s previous works and admittedly did not know much about her. I was a little shocked to see the story is based in the town near where I live but this allowed me to really experience the nuances the characters experienced along the way – the humidity and heat of the town, the stifling yet grieving community, the place where the Brennans had chosen to ‘get away’.
    Jesse has an evocative and addictive style of writing. She made me have a relationship with each and every one of them, putting me into the heart and mind of a teenage boy isn’t easy, especially one that is grieving and going through the other ‘normal’ teenage issues.
    This book is complex yet honest and engaging. The statistics of this event in Australia are horrifying and as someone who has experienced the main event in this story (not firsthand thankfully) made me treasure my family all the more so and respect Jesse as a writer who has drawn on her own experience while also being able to write about all characters with respect, realism and dignity.
    I will certainly be sourcing any of Jesse’s future writings and highly recommend anyone not familiar with her to give her a go.

  10. Sixty seconds was both heartbreaking and compelling. I opened it with trepidation knowing that a tragedy was going to happen to a child but the way Jesse wrote the book made it easier to handle.
    It showed how everyone effected by the tragedy coped and how they all came together.
    The way Jesse wrote also made you feel like you were there and feeling every emotion the characters were.
    I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for any future books by Jesse.
    Thank you for the privilege of being able to review such an amazing novel.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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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