Even though I love books, I hadn’t read much this year. I won’t horrify you with the number of unread books that I have scattered all over the house but let’s just say there are a lot. I’d been in a reading funk but the drought has broken and the book to do it was The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless.
The Dream Walker tells the story of sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart. It’s set in a small Queensland fishing hamlet called Diggers Landing where fish is the local currency. But the fish aren’t biting and some of the local ‘characters’ think they know why and who is to blame. All Lucy wants is to finish high school and head to the city with her best friend Polly and her crush Tom and make a new life away from the river but untangling herself from Diggers Creek proves harder than she thought.
I like this book for a lot of reasons. I like how Carless weaves the river throughout the narrative so that it becomes another character – and rightly so considering it’s importance to the town. I like the unique town characters that she captures without turning them into caricatures of ‘country’ folk. I love how Lucy navigates through the strained relationship with her father after her mother’s death.
But most of all, I love the language Carless uses. She has a way of describing the languid, late summer days and the oppressive heat that here, in the late throes of winter, I could feel its smothering weight. I could almost smell the heat on the corrugated lean to and it felt like I knew, and always had known, the people of Diggers.
“Everything about this place appears weary and bemused. Folks have been here forever but they walk around like they’re not sure how that came to be. It’s rumoured that we all came from four original families. It’s best not to think too much about that.”
I have so many page flags and post-it notes sticking out of this book marking clever turns of phrase or passages that speak to me. For me, that’s the mark of a good book, and Carless is an exceptional storyteller. In this book she weaves a magical tale about hope, life and love that is well worth a read and sure to captivate.