A novel about a family and a place, Islands is told through many voices, a series of overlapping points of view which gather together to form an intricate whole. Helen and Paul’s marriage ends and their daughters struggle with the aftermath. Junie becomes the tight-lipped observer, and Anna veers into self-destructive secrecy. When she disappears completely the family members each drift further apart, unable to understand each other’s pain. It is compared to both Georgia Blain and Helen Garner, and I think that’s right – the vivid setting, the agonies of adolescents, the essential unknowability of another person’s inner life. Islands should be a depressing book but the skill in the way each character is fleshed out with their their motivations and resentments, graciousness and yearning, is nothing short of magnificent.
Allen & Unwin 2019