Book Review: Home and Other Hiding Places by Jack Ellis

About the Book:

When eight-year-old Fin and his mum Lindy travel to spend Christmas with his Gran in Sydney, Fin assumes they’ll return to their isolated country property – the only home he’s ever known. But he soon discovers that this large and crumbling riverside house, surrounded by bush and unwelcoming neighbours, is his home now.

As Lindy’s fragile emotions fracture under the weight of Gran’s disapproval and the pressure of old memories, Fin holds onto a tenderness of spirit and the simple clarity he has learnt from his isolation on the farm – an insight that hasn’t yet been clouded by the secret codes of adulthood. But as the life he has known crumbles around him, Fin learns that no-one is coming to his rescue, and he sets off on a journey to find his way home.

Published by Ultimo Press

Released February 2022

My Thoughts:

This turned out to be quite a novel. I’m never certain when going in if a child narrator will work for me – on many occasions they haven’t – but in this instance, it was amazing. Jack Ellis is such an incredible writer. This a novel that really reinforces the damage we can do to children by not telling them what is going on with the adults around them. The instinct to protect can be strong, but children notice when things are wrong, and they do worry, even if you tell them not to, and they will also jump to conclusions that can be so far off base, magnifying the trauma of what they are experiencing and potentially placing them in danger.

So much of this story has its impact in what is left unsaid, the implicit undercurrent of the past, the anger and resentment still lingering between adults, and the shame and stigma that persists when it comes to mental illness. Through Fin, we see the resilience of children, but we also see the fear and bravado, the desperate search for something familiar to hold onto. Tender and poignant, Home and Other Hiding Places is a deeply affecting story, told with literary skill and a vivid attention to even the smallest of details. This novel is a treasure, a quintessential Australian story that affirms Jack Ellis as one of our finest contemporary writers.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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