Review: Blueback by Tim Winton

Tim Winton's novel Blueback still gets me emotional almost eighteen years after I first encountered my slim blue copy on the shelves at a local bookshop that has long since gone out of business. The novel tells the story of Abel Jackson, a ten year old boy who dives for abalone with his mother. Abel's Dad has passed away, but he has left his son with a deep appreciation for the ocean, one that his mother nurtures at every turn. During one of his diving expeditions Abel encounters Blueback, a large groper that has lived in the area for many years, defying all kinds of risks and odds. It is Blueback who truly helps Abel to cement his love of the ocean, which he eventually turns into a career, before eventually discovering a higher calling. Along the way, the reader learns of the many personal and environmental challenges that come to Abel, his mother and to Blueback, the kind that truly make the reader stop and think about what we are doing to our environment, and what, precisely, is at risk ...

This is a beautiful novel about a deeply personal relationship with the ocean, and the value of nature and of protecting the local environment. After all, once it's gone ... 

Tim Winton as always writes beautifully, countering moments of torment and destruction with moments of wonder and healing. The novel is short and can easily be read and understood by children as well as adults. 

Highly recommended.


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