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The World Beneath


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'A major talent... Kennedy has a near pitch-perfect voice and a feeling for the precise moment when stars move in the cosmos.' Peter Temple From one of the fastest rising stars of Australian fiction a remarkable modern retelling of the Persephone myth.

About the Author

Cate Kennedy's first book, the acclaimed short story collection Dark Roots, was shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. She is also the author of the travel memoir Sing and Don't Cry: A Mexican Journal and the poetry collections Joyflight and Signs of Other Fires. The World Beneath is her first novel.


In a small Australian town, Sandy muddles through life as an unemployed single mother pining for the heady days of her activist youth. Sandy frequently reminisces about her role in a famous 1980s environmental protest in Tasmania. Sophie, her troubled teenager, listens grudgingly because her mother's stories are a link to her estranged father, Rich, who met Sandy there. Unexpectedly, Rich invites Sophie to go bushwalking in Tasmania, and Sandy's worst fears are realized when the father-daughter trek goes dangerously wrong. Alternately narrated by an unflinching, angry Sophie and her hapless parents, this polished novel from Australian poet and short story writer Kennedy (Dark Roots) evokes a more lyrical version of Jodi Picoult. Kennedy particularly shines in her portrayal of the rocky relationship between Sandy and Sophie, hitting the reader with raw, heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious prose. Occasionally the narrative becomes bogged down by lengthy stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, but this is a minor flaw in what is otherwise a wise and graceful debut novel. VERDICT Sure to be a hit with fans of contemporary social fiction; Kennedy is an author to watch.-Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In Australian Kennedy's (Dark Roots) chick friendly debut novel, 15-year-old anorexic Sophie Reynolds comes of age in a fast-paced, well-observed study of family relationships. Sophie's mother, former hippie Sandy, trundles toward middle age with hennaed hair and a flagging jewelry business. Then Rich, Sophie's father, reappears to offer a week-long backpacking trip in Tasmania that Sophie sees as an opportunity to bond with her mysterious father, annoy her mother, and indulge her obsession with rigorous exercise. Rich, a deadbeat dad with a dead-end job, hopes to impress his wayward daughter with fancy hiking gear and borrowed music. But when he strays from the path without a map, stalking the perfect photo, he endangers them both. With Rich and Sophie missing, Sandy is forced to re-examine her life: her criticizing mother; her festering resentment of Rich; and her friends, who enjoy crises more than company. The pitfalls of nostalgia and the disappointment of everyday life contrast sharply with the ravishing Tasmanian landscapes Kennedy is excellent at painting, along with interpersonal terrain, but the novel wants to be more profound than it actually is. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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