AWW2013 – Book 6
Love Like Water
Library book, borrowed from Narangba Library
I knew nothing about this book before I started reading it, only that it was set in Alice Springs and that it was written by an Australian woman. It was one that I randomly picked off the shelves in the library. (Incidentally, I used to do that an awful lot – just pick up books at random. Now it feels like I look for recommendations, then read reviews and I’m almost too prepared before I read. This challenge is helping me return to my ‘just pick it up’ roots!)
Love Like Water is about three people – Cathy, Margie and Jay – who are all newcomers to Alice Springs. I believe the book is set in the early nineties – there’s talk about basketball and early Yothu Yindi, and the three characters are coming to terms with being adults, being alone and being in Alice Springs. The main story belongs to Cathy and Jay. Cathy is from an outback station, where she’s always followed the expected path – she’s gone away to boarding school, come home, supported her brother (who was always going to inherit the property) and found a local boy to get engaged to. But when her fiance is killed in a plane crash, she packs up and follows her friend Margie to Alice Springs.
Jay, on the other hand, is following a job opportunity to Alice Springs. He’s gained success as a DJ in Sydney and has been offered the morning radio spot for the Aboriginal radio station in Alice Springs. He’s coming to terms with his urbane background, and his family background which is so different to the Aboriginal people in Alice Springs. Additionally, there’s a pervasive racism which allows him to be popular and ‘seen’ in some areas of town, while dismissing him in others.
Finally there’s Margie. Her story isn’t as big and overwhelming as Jay or Cathy. Instead she acts more like a mirror, her point of view reflecting off the other two, who soon meet and find themselves developing a deep relationship.
This was such a lyrical read, the words often read like music. It was easy to fall into the story and almost let it take you along, even when the story made unpleasant twists. Although Cathy, Jay and Margie don’t always make good decisions, they are likeable people and you want them to have good lives. I would easily read more about both Cathy and Jay, as well as the other richly written minor characters in the story. I would highly recommend this book to others, and I look forward to searching for more from Meme McDonald
On a separate point, this was classified and shelved as a young adult book – which demonstrates what a broad range you can find in young adult. These characters are in early adulthood – their early 20s – but they’re definitely not the teenagers, or even the young school leavers, that you usually find in young adult books. I wonder why this wasn’t published as an adult book, and whether there’s a place – and where that is – for stories about people in their early 20s.