The Castaway Convict, by Wendy MacDonald

“Help! Help!” he shouted and gagged on a mouthful of salt. Waves broke over him, filling his mouth and nose with water. He could not stand. He could not swim. Then he could not feel the bottom any more and he knew with real terror that he had been swept out to sea.

Josh Martin doesn’t know why he is in Point Puer, the boys’ division of the Port Arthur convict prison. He doesn’t remember how he got to Van Diemen’s Land, nor where his family is. In fact, all he knows is that his name is Josh Martin, not Tom Parish, which is what everyone else calls him.

When Josh is pushed into the sea by a bully, he is swept away in a terrifying ride to freedom. Soon he has made some new friends and found safety – but the past which saw him land in Point Puer continues to haunt him. As his memory starts to return, the truth of the terrible chain of events that led him here emerges – and new threats to his safety emerge.

Castaway Convict is a gripping historical novel, which weaves a vivid picture of life in colonial Tasmania, and has plenty of action and mystery to keep readers turning pages. Josh and his friends are believable, endearing characters and there is enough in the plot to absorb readers aged up to about 14.

A good solid read.

The Castaway Conflict, by Wendy MacDonald
UWA Press, 2005