Deception, by Celeste Walters

Not much that happens in the silver city is not influenced by Kenneth Cullinan. He has a finger in every pie in town – business; politics, even football.

Josh Sim lives in the silver city. His life is study, family, and following the team. Until the game goes national, with Cullinan at the centre of the push, and Josh and every other local is left without a team to support.

Josh’s Dad played for the team and, to his grandfather, GD, football is life’s focus. When the team is closed, GD loses his passion for life.

Meanwhile, Josh’s mother, Liz, is living a lie. Every Wednesday she sneaks off to her new job – cleaning silver at Kenneth Cullinan’s home. The extra money will help put Josh through university, but she can’t tell him where the money comes from. Cullinan is universally hated and Josh wouldn’t understand why she is working for him.

When Josh uncovers his mother’s betrayal, he leaves home and takes to the streets. It seems, for a time, as if nothing will mend the rift.

Deception is a skilfully crafted book for young adults which will also appeal to adult readers. Author Celeste Walters creates a multi-layered and multi-streamed tale which shows the darker side of a city and of human nature, but also features hope and love as very real parts of life.

There is a tendency among writers for older teens to confuse realism with pessimism, and Walters carefully avoids this trap. The book is, at times, very dark, yet there, amidst death, family breakdown, and chaos, is a demonstration of goodness, of hope for a brighter future. There are no easy answers to the difficulties Josh and his family face, but there is an opportunity to search for answers, to work towards solutions.

A resonant read for ages 14 and over.

Deception, by Celeste Walters
University of Queensland Press, 2005