Last Summer by Kylie Ladd

laddSo Australian in setting and atmosphere that you can smell the sausage sizzle in the pages, Last Summer, by Melbourne author Kylie Ladd (picture left), is the involving tale of nine people trying to cope with the loss of their friend, brother, husband: Rory Buchanan, as large in memory as he was in person. His death, at cricket training, tests all who knew him. The characters are so real, they play on your mind when you’ve put the book down, almost to the point where you want to call them up and check they’re okay before realising the only way to find out is to read the next chapter. It’s full of summer heat, cricket matches, family, and sex: the key ingredients to any scandalous summer season.

Rory’s wife, Colleen, tries to adapt to life without Rory there to support her and their frightened children. His sister, Kelly, is stuck mourning her beloved sibling amongs people trying resolutely to move on with their lives; her husband, Joe, lashes out in violent anger. Friends Trinity and Pete have to cope with a sullen daughter and the intrusion of an unexpected new family member; Nick and Laine with the lure of infidelity and an endless wave of grief; Anita and James with the realisation that their life together has stagnated. Even their children, previously an enthusiastic bunch of kids mucking around at junior cricket practice, can’t escape the impact of Rory’s death, their own friendships fracturing in its wake.

Last Summer is a wrenchingly honest look at relationships, old and new. It’s enough to make you look suspiciously at all your friends and wonder what secrets they’re hiding under their cricket whites. You’ll take sides just as you would in your own friends’ lives, and later change your point of view. Straightforward yet evocative, Last Summer is a vivid slice of suburban life, as potent as the smell of zinc.

Fiona Hardy is from Readings Carlton

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