Resistance by Jacinta Halloran

Jacinta Halloran’s fourth novel has been much anticipated, as her previous titles have won awards, and been lauded by authors such as Helen Garner and Fiona Wright. The title, Resistance, refers to a psychological term for failing to engage, or withholding facts, issues or emotions from a therapist or another person. The protagonist of this novel, Nina, a family therapist, is familiar with this, but her latest clients, the Agostino family, give little away. The family has been court-ordered to attend therapy after they left their farm hurriedly, disappearing into the outback and stealing a car on the way. The parents are tight-lipped and the children unusually self-contained, complicating Nina’s mandate to assess the safety of the young boy and girl.

Nina is reeling from the death of her brother, and the story of his life is gradually revealed. The novel, however, is not just about Nina and her brother, but widens to involve stories from her colleagues Nalini and Melita; and compellingly, the story of Nina’s professional supervisor Erin. The format is suggestive of Russian Matryoshka dolls, with people and narratives nestled within each other. Nina’s skills as a therapist bleed into all aspects of her life – she is told she is a ‘good listener’ by people who reveal personal details to her in everyday situations.

Resistance is not a plot-based novel, but there are surprises. Some stories have unexpected endings; others are tragic. With Nina as a holder of stories and secrets, this novel becomes a meditation on storytelling itself. Halloran questions who owns the stories we are told, and examines dominant paradigms regarding colonialism, racism, addiction and loss.

This novel is for readers who enjoy sensitive explorations of big issues; those who enjoyed Heather Rose’s Museum of Modern Love, and Jessica Au’s Cold Enough for Snow. Expect to see it on many award shortlists.

Cover image for Resistance


Jacinta Halloran

In stock at 2 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 2 shops