I’m not sure who found Amanda Clarke’s body. I think it was her mother, but I may be wrong.
I imagine it was dinnertime, and she called them both – ‘Amanda, Daniel, come to the table now’ – used to receiving no answer. Putting her glass down, the ice clinking, she wiped her damp hands on the edge of a tea towel, and wandered through to the family room where Daniel lay on his stomach, the seagrass matting pressing a pattern into the pale skin on his arms, chin resting in his hands as he watched the last of Get Smart.
15-year-old Winter is as shocked as anyone in her small community when Amanda Clarke’s body is found floating in the river. Not that she is a close friend of Amanda’s, but it’s a small place and everyone is known. Besides, her brother Joe is part of a small group that hung out with Amanda. Amanda is a golden girl. She has everything, wealthy parents and strong friendships with everyone who matters. But no one seems able to tell if her death was accidental, suicide or intentional. As rumours ripple around the community, they disturb other secrets and show Winter how little is as it seems. Winter tells her story in first person, partly through diary entries where she discovers how few ‘facts’ are actually irrefutable.
Darkwater is set in the early 70’s, perhaps in a time when a small community is on the brink of change. Developers are keen to transform vacant land into housing, their eyes fixed on huge profits. Environmentalists are forging relationships with builders to keep common land available to all. Women are emerging from the kitchen to have their say. It is a time of change. And like the turning of the tide that is a daily feature of life next to this river, the same world can be a very different place depending on where you sit. There are themes of family, of ‘progress’ of women’s rights. Darkwater is a crime novel, a coming of age novel, a portrait of a period in history and a study in the impressions we create. Recommended for middle-secondary readers and beyond.
Darkwater, Georgia Blain
Random House Australia 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author