To Become A Whale by Ben Hobson
This brilliant, beautifully written debut novel is set in and around Noosa and Moreton Island in the 1960’s.
The story opens at the funeral of thirteen-year-old Sam’s mother. Sam’s father, Walter Keogh, is a traditional Aussie bloke and works at the Tangalooma whaling station on Moreton Island. Walter is uncomfortable with emotion and without the protective presence of Sam’s mother, it is not going to be an easy pathway ahead for sensitive, caring Sam. At first, Sam seeks companionship in his dog Albert, however, what he really seeks is his father’s care and love.
Walter then takes the boy away from everything he knows and introduces him to a harsh world – the world of whaling.
After an unfortunate accident at the whaling station, Sam sets off on an epic journey to force his father to evolve and be the man he should be.
In the process, Sam discovers something about himself.
Throughout, we get glimpses of what life was like before, with flashbacks to 1955 when Sam’s caring and loving mother was alive and we see that Walter was not always the sort of father that Sam was seeing now.
This coming of age story is about the process of grief, the relationship and bonding of a father and son, love, the need for approval, trust, lies, fear and pride.
One of my favourite books for 2017 and one that I believe is set to be an Australian classic.
Review by Jenny @ Great Escape Books