Salt River Road by Australian author Molly Schmidt is a heart-warming fiction story that features love and loss, a journey towards compassion, and the incredible power of human connectedness.
Set in Western Australia in the late 1970s, the Tetley family are not only grieving their mother and wife Elana’s death from cancer but also the possibility of losing the family sheep farm when it comes to a standstill. Father Eddie is numb with grief and his five children are left to take care of themselves.
As the family deals with the loss, we follow teenage siblings Rose and Frank struggling with their mother’s death in diverse ways. Rose leaves to avoid the misery of home; she meets Elders Patsy and Herbert who guide her through her pain and share knowledge passed on and the strength you find in community.
The original and compelling characters are strongly defined by the author, which makes it easier to envision the family as it unravels and the steps they take in their grieving process.
The plot is clever and well-constructed and the narrative is exceptionally easy to read. The main story focuses on challenging struggles, grief, healing and reconciliation against a backdrop of cultural traditions, spirituality, and an orderly culture with defined roles.
Schmidt has used the small rural town setting to show the rich history of the Menang, Goreng Noongar people, the traditional custodians of the region. The landscape sweeps through the pages and comes to life it is as if you have popped into the outback of southern Western Australia.
For her debut novel, Molly Schmidt is a gifted storyteller; she writes with her heart and soul. She draws from her own personal experience with losing someone special. Grief is different for everyone; it is an individual journey. Understanding this concept, Schmidt pens characters, young and old, all grieving, each in a different place in their personal journey.
The prose poetry throughout the book was wonderful. I found myself re-reading the meaningful passages, it highlights the talent the author has.
The book cover art “Quandongs” by Glenda Williams, Noongar Elder defies the visual expectations for a coming-of-age story. It exudes a vibrant colour palette that is so effective giving it an abundance of energy and warmth. The text on the cover does not detract from the Quandong illustration. It is a cover that will stand out on a bookshelf and catch your eye, it is stunning.
Salt River Road will certainly make you cry but also give you a reason to smile. I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press, for the opportunity to read and review.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Salt River Road by Molly Schmidt. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.