Off the Map

Scot Gardner

Off the Map
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Off the Map

Scot Gardner

We ran and slipped and swore and bumped into each other. Nick’s phone beeped like a dying bird. If it died, we’d be in total darkness.

Getting lost, falling in love, pushing boundaries, exploring the world - powerfully honest stories to make you think and feel, from the award-winning author of The Dead I Know and Changing Gear.

‘Off The Map is a stunning smorgasbord of short stories - each one a treat to be savoured. These are stories that stroll through the Australian landscape with measured, confident, steps that never miss a beat. Walking with Gardner is a delight - you’re in for a wild, funny and profoundly moving journey.’ - Barry Jonsberg, author of My Life as an Alphabet

Review

Off the Map is a short-story collection featuring all the things Scot Gardner writes about best: families (dysfunctional ones, functional ones and all the varieties in between); snapshots of mundane summer days; and those unseen moments where someone’s world is silently, slowly imploding. Gardner’s best known for showing us the complex inner lives, thoughts, questions and emotions of teenage boys, from the rowdy boys at the back of the bus to the quiet, almost invisible boys who slip by unnoticed. Off the Map is no different, but this time the protagonists include young women and LGBTQIA+ teens as well (although LGBTQIA+ representation is not unusual in Gardner’s previous work).

There are 15 stories in Off the Map, all set in the same group of small fictional towns. The protagonists are as different as can be, but each one has a unique and honest voice. Some of the characters in the stories overlap, which allows you to see them from different perspectives, forcing you to rethink your initial assumptions about those characters.

Two highlights for me were Ryan’s and Amy’s stories. Ryan’s is about a boy who, when tasked by a school guest speaker to do 10 minutes of free writing, takes the opportunity to philosophise about the meaning of life, sexuality and gender, before concluding that ‘until you die, you’re free to muck around with all the knobs and buttons on the mixing deck of life’. In Amy’s story, a Japanese exchange student responds so beautifully and publicly to a prank, it made me howl with laughter in my lounge room; I wish I could reveal more details about it, but you’re going to have to read the book.

Off the Map is full of these kinds of funny and thoughtful moments, making it great for all readers ages 13+.


Dani Solomon is the assistant manager at Readings Kids.

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