The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton
Jaxie’s dad ‘wasn’t always a c#%t. Like he was probably decent once and you were happy and so was your mum.’ But he is now, or was; he’s dead now and Jaxie Clackton, 16 and desperate, is on the run – not because he killed his dad, but because they’ll think he did, because he had a motive. And so Jaxie grabs what he can and heads north, away from the cops and the people that will chase him into the wilderness of Western Australia and perhaps north to Magnet where he can find the only person who understands him.
In The Shepherd’s Hut there are only two live characters, Jaxie and the old bloke, Fintan, that he finds living near the vast salt plain. In Jaxie’s head there are lots of others: his dad; his dad’s mate, Bill Cox; his mum; his cousin. But now he has to survive in a forsaken and harsh landscape. For Jaxie an adult relationship hasn’t existed, at least not in a healthy way, and when he stumbles on the camp of the mysterious old man in the middle of nowhere he begins to discover his adulthood.
Reading this book is like a roller coaster; the vernacular, the language, is a wild and constant surprise – you’ll ‘wander round like a loonie till the shitawks pecked out your eyes’. There is so much energy packed into this book. The Shepherd’s Hut is an adventure story about disappointment, about friendship, about risk, about growing up, growing old and about sadness. And what a treat this story is.