#aww2018 “The boy steps into the day like he owns it.” // Review of “Sixty Seconds” by Jesse Blackadder

Title: Sixty Seconds
Author: Jesse Blackadder
Genre: Contemporary drama
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 09/12/18 – 13/12/18


knew I wanted to read this book from the moment I read an interview with Jesse Blackadder around the time of its release. This book, dealing with the aftermath of a backyard drowning, is the author’s creative response to exactly that tragedy occurring in her own family when she was twelve. 

I think my main reason for not rating it higher is that I just couldn’t necessarily get into the characters, which I think is partly due to some stylistic decisions. There are three different POVs, Finn’s in third person, Jarrah’s in first person, and Bridget’s in second person… the second person in particular took quite a while to get used to. It’s a difficult POV to pull off, and I am sure I am not the only one who kept thinking “No, it’s not me doing these things.” But after  a while, I did get more used to it. Jarrah was the POV character I felt the closest to, I think because the first person narration really worked for his character and it made me feel closer to him than either of the other characters. There were actually some side characters I had stronger reactions to than the main ones.

The writing and pacing in this book is well done and quite tight. However, I did find that sometimes an event was glossed over, and we only got to see a character’s  quick reflection on it afterwards, rather than reading the event itself. I think some of the reason I wasn’t quite able to get into this one is because I don’t read a lot of straight contemporary stories. I read things set in the modern day, but they’re usually a romance or a thriller or some such. This focus on the everyday lives of people, even in the aftermath of something huge, is not quite my thing.

This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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Book Review: “Looking for JJ” by Anne Cassidy

Title: Looking for JJ (Jennifer Jones #1)
Author: Anne Cassidy
Audio book narrator: Shirley Barthelmie
Date Read: 25/11/2017 – 28/11/2017
Rating: ★★★


I think this book was supposed to be a thriller but I didn’t really find especially thrilling. Still, I did enjoy it as a straight drama, apart from a few quibbles.

Jennifer Jones has been in juvenile detention for six years after killing a girl when she was just eleven years old. Now seventeen, she’s been released under the name Alice Tully, and is trying to resume a normal life. But with press interest looming, it’s only a matter of time before this carefully constructed new life begins to crumble. And Alice begins to wonder if a person really can change.

I really liked the character of Jennifer/Alice. I felt for her as she tried to navigate her new life, and even more so in the second section of the book, where we learn of the circumstances leading up to the death of her friend. I also really liked her case worker, Rosie, who is staunchly in Alice’s court when the media starts to catch up with her.

My main issue in terms of characters was Alice’s boyfriend, Freddie. He was controlling and often seemed to be pressuring her into things she wasn’t ready for. And yet, Alice always went on about how romantic he was and how much she loved him. He then flipped to the opposite extreme once he found out that Alice was a virgin, going on about how the first time should be special and how he didn’t know if he was up to the task (or something). Both attitudes were kind of gross in their own way.

The writing itself was very good, though I felt the structure could have been a bit better. There are flashbacks during Part 1, then Part 2 centres solely on young Jennifer and the events leading up to the death of her friend. Part 3 then returns to Alice’s POV. I think the story would have been stronger if the whole back story had been woven in with the present story.

There is a sequel to the book, but I didn’t find myself compelled to seek it out. I felt that the story wrapped up in a satisfactory way and I was happy to leave these characters where they were. The sequel sounds like quite a different kind of plot, so it might be something I seek out when I’m in the mood for a more introspective kind of read.

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