Bearing Witness

Bearing Witness

GOLDEN BOYS

by Sonya Hartnett

Penguin, $29.99 pb, 238 pp, 9781926428611

Sonya Hartnett writes for all ages, her work spanning children’s picture books to novels for young adults and adult readers. Her adult novels have been widely acclaimed; Of a Boy (2002) won the Age Book of the Year award and has been canonised as a Penguin Classic. In many ways, though, her pedigree as a much-awarded children’s writer has always characterised her career.

Golden Boys belongs with Of a Boy and the exquisite Butterfly (2009), novels for adults that document the sharp realities and murky undercurrents of suburban life from a child’s perspective. In these books, her narrators are frustrated by their inability to control their own circumstances, and are marked by their heightened observations of the world’s workings as they come to grips with their universe. Certain truths we have forgotten to question or notice are brought to light in the gaps between her child-narrators’ naïve observations and their burgeoning powers of analysis. Hartnett’s narrators and her readers bridge that gap of understanding, gradually piecing together clues and matching them with their significance, forming a cohesive narrative as the novels build to their climaxes.

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Jo Case

Jo Case

Jo Case is senior writer/editor for the Wheeler Centre. Her previous roles have included editor of Readings Monthly, the newsletter for Readings Books & Music, books editor of The Big Issue, co-editor of their annual fiction edition, and associate editor of Kill Your Darlings. Her reviews, essays and opinion pieces have been published in The Age, The Australian, and The Sydney Morning Herald, and her short stories have been published in the Sleepers Almanac and Best Australian Stories. Her first book, Boomer and Me: A memoir of motherhood, and Asperger’s, was published by Hardie Grant in Australia (April 2013).

Published in September 2014 no. 364

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