All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
It seems to me that some authors work desperately hard to ensure that their readers deliberate on who they are in relation to a particular character. Other authors want their readers to consider history, or an alternative narrative of humanity. And then there are the authors that seem to be able to pull together music, mythology, landscape and emotion into a type of evocative fairytale through which their readers are transported to a new place – a place of creation and of endless possibilities. Trent Dalton is this type of writer. Who that has read his bestselling debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe, will forget it? Now, with his second novel, his prose will sweep you up into our ‘shimmering skies’ and take you on an adventure perhaps not considered in popular adult fiction since Alice fell down that hole and emerged into a wonderland.
All Our Shimmering Skies celebrates that wonderland, that place of possibilities that lies within the heart of Australia. At the centre of this fairytale is Molly, a gravedigger’s daughter, and her quest to find a family, a home, and some understanding of who she could be. Dalton’s writing will mobilise you to reflect on this country’s epic human past, and also to remember what it is to be young and hopeful and certain. All Our Shimmering Skies offers a wonderful array of characters, and then there is the weather, there is more history (Darwin has just been bombed), and there is a search for goodness. As you meander through the landscape of northern Australia following Molly and her companions, Greta and Yukio, allow yourself to be seized by Dalton’s celebration of Australia.
Read this novel because you need to believe in happily-ever-after stories; because you want to be taken into Australia’s red dust, into its rivers and its waterfalls; and because you desperately need to clamber to the highest point to see the horizon. Read this novel because Dalton’s vison ensures you can see the daylight.