Big River, Little Fish by Belinda Jeffrey
Shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Award for the NSW Premier's Literary Award in 2011, Big River Little Fish is the story of Tom Downs who's fifteen years have been far from easy. Tom was born "backwards" on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia which tragically results in his mothers death. At fifteen years old and illiterate, raised by caring foster parents, Tom is considered by some as backward (hence his nickname, 'Mot'). Tom, however, is adept with his hands and has a great ability to fix any piece of machinery and find himself drawn to the recluses who live on the river's edge which is evidence of his sensitive nature. The themes of familial relations, racial discriminiation and adolescent angst are all part of this story but when the worst floods in a century threaten Swan Reach, Tom must come into his own. While carefully depicting the historical events of the flood and sensitively describing the personal and physical devastation, Jeffrey also adds a surprising twist at the end that further draw out the complexities of Tom's character.
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