Attempts to Draw Jesus, by Stephen Orr

Being without a job means being aimless. For Rolly, living in Adelaide, it means retracing familiar routes, watching people, applying for jobs he does’t want. For Jack, living in a small country town, it means being nobody. The two have never met, but when they both answer the same ad and apply for jobs as jackaroos, their lives come together.

Neither boy has any experience of Outback life, but both have plenty of will and nothing to lose. This is an experience they hope will make them into something.

Attempts to Draw Jesus, the first novel for Adelaide author Stephen Orr, is partly based on the story of Simon Amos and James Annetts, two young boys who took on jackaroo work in the 1980s and were subsequently found dead in the Great Sandy Desert. This is not, however, a non-fiction piece. Instead, Orr gets inside the heads of his own characters, whose lives do overlap those of Amos and Annetts, to show the motivations, the emotions and the growth of his characters. He also leads them through a journey of self-discovery which makes the novel more uplifting than the newspaper articles which reported the real-life event.

Orr also creates adventures and friends for the pair, rich in their diversity and in the various ways they touch the lives of Jack and Rolly.

Attempts to Draw Jesus is an insightful and richly developed novel.

Attempts to Draw Jesus
, by Stephen Orr
Allen & Unwin, 2002