Helen Henry recommends All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane - Published by Rosa Mira Books (New Zealand) 2017, Clan Destine Press (Australia) 2018
In 2018 Jennifer Lane won the
Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel for All Our Secrets.
She lives in Wellington.
This story is set somewhere in New South Wales, a town given the name Coongahoola, near a river called the Baloogi. This is an enjoyable read, a page turner, as people usually say. I read it quickly and then felt aggrieved when it was finished. I am so hoping this writer will come up with another book.
The narrator is an eleven year old girl, Gracie Barrett. She is growing up with her brother Elijah, her mother, Nell, her father (when he is not living elsewhere) and Grandma Bett. Gracie allows the reader into her world, and we share her fears, hopes and the sense of menace which persists from the start.
Gracie's town is big enough to have a police officer, a grocery store; and, small enough to harbour secrets. There are Baptists, Roman Catholics and the recent arrivals, the Believers, led by 'Saint Bede'. The adults share a secret related to a community picnic and the resultant River Children born approximately nine months later. As time progresses children begin to go missing. After an interval, in each case, the bodies are discovered near the same Baloogi River. We get an appreciation for the fear felt in the community through the eyes of Gracie as the hunt goes on for the killer in their midst.
All Our Secrets is available in paperback at local bookshops and as an eBook on Amazon.