Finding Darcy, by Sue Lawson

‘You’re joking.’
‘Keep your voice down, Darcy,’ whispered Mum, stirring her coffee. She glanced around the packed café. ‘We need to discuss this calmly.’
I leaned forward. The edge of the table pressed against my ribs. ‘Discuss? What’s to discuss? It’s all decided. You’re moving to Melbourne for three months and I have to live with Misery and Batty.’
‘Why not? It suits them. Grandma’s mad, and as for Granny! She’s a foul-tempered old witch.’ I sat back, arms folded.

Darcy lives with her nurse mother, in a small coastal town. Her mother has to update her training and for three months, Darcy will live with her grandmother who is also caring for her own mother, Darcy’s great-grandmother. Four generations of women on their own. Darcy’s father died when she was a small child. Her grandfather is dead and mystery surrounds the death of the great-grandfather whose name she shares. All Darcy knows is that he died during the war. Discussion about him is forbidden, even by Mum. As if living with a grandmother she calls Misery and a great-grandmother she calls Batty isn’t bad enough, her class is set a living history assignment. They must interview their grandparents for family stories about World War II. Darcy can’t talk to her family so she begins to research herself. A misunderstanding at school leads to a spiralling episode of bullying. Darcy discovers allies in unexpected places and unwraps the secrets that have so dramatically impacted on four generations of her family.

Finding Darcy is a compelling journey of discovery. Pulled rudely out of her secure and happy environment, Darcy struggles with school bullying while experiencing similar issues out of school hours. She is a fully-developed, likeable character who struggles to adapt to her challenging new living environment. Issues of family secrets, bullying, racism, small town small-mindedness are all handled realistically and sensitively. Misery, Batty, even her nemesis ‘Neanderthal’ are all skilfully developed as flawed-but-not-irredeemable characters. Her teacher, ‘The Newt’ and her friend, Laura provide constancy and support, while keeping Darcy accountable for her actions. Darcy’s exploration of the circumstances of her great-grandfather’s death illuminate a lesser-known tragedy and put a human face to war and its far-reaching effects. Parallels are drawn between the death of her father and that of her great-grandfather. Themes include coping with loss, family, war, friendship and bullying. Recommended for early- to mid-secondary readers.

Finding Darcy, by Sue Lawson
black dog books 2008
ISBN: 9781742030234