Author: Peta Jo
The Crushing Season is an easy to read Australian story of friendship through the ages that resonated with me and I’m sure will resonate with anyone who shared life changing high school friendships that lasted through decades.
Set in Bundaberg amid the endless fields of sugar cane and a backdrop of high school memories The Crushing Season centres on five friends who met in high school and have forged bonds to last a lifetime.
The time line jumps around a little, the characters are in their thirties so we’re talking over a decade since high school and that’s when the story is set. We need to flash back to high school to understand how their friendship group evolved and what helped cement it into a bond that is still strong into their thirties. There are a couple of other minor time slips in the narrative and they simply serve to build curiousity.
All of these characters spoke to me on some level, both as teens and as adults. The way their friendship group came together and then evolved was organic and realistic. It made me homesick for my childhood friends.
These five friends have been through a lot together and supported each other through high school, uni, moving away from home, break ups, hook ups and the whole range of young adult drama. Now they have a whole new range of issues to navigate, with their unfailing support group.
Tate is trying to juggle motherhood with her career and not enjoying it, Benny is struggling to get the words down for his breakout novel, Leah is running a restaurant she’s not passionate about and living with a man she’s always second guessing, Alex is cruising along in a comfortable relationship but still seriously commitment-phobic and May hasn’t made the escape from her adolescence she was planning. Lean and May are both still living close to their childhood homes while Alex, Tate and Benny have moved to bigger and brighter places in Brisbane.
The five characters are very different, as were their upbringings, but that served more to cement their bonds than crumble them because there was that little bit of mystery of what it was like for them. Their friendship has evolved through the years and only grown stronger though the time they spend together has certainly lessened and it is longer between catch ups but once they get together it’s like nothing has changed. I’m sure we all have friendships like this and that’s what helps this book to resonate with me. These characters could be my friends, or your friends, and the struggles are ordinary ones that any one of us could face.
The Crushing Season encapsulates a period of great change for the five friends, a period of upheaval and self-discovery that forces them all to evolve into the next period of their lives. It also sees them finally look back on their lifetime of friendship and see it through different eyes, wishing they had seen more clearly.
I found some of the storyline to be a little predictable, but not painfully so. It was a realistic storyline that I could completely see happening. The story was well paced, the emotions relatable and the Bundaberg sugar cane industry background fascinating.
Now I do find it interesting that Peta Jo shares a career with Tate and it explains why her knowledge of the newsroom rings true.
Peta Jo’s writing style is engaging and enveloping and I can’t wait to see where her fiction career takes her.
The Crushing Season is book #57 for the #Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
The Crushing season is available from Booktopia and where all good books are sold.