Sinking by David Hill, Scholastic NZ
An attention-grabbing cover welcomes readers to this contemporary tale, written with the author’s usual skill and attention to detail. It’s narrated by teenager Conrad, and begins with Conrad on his usual early-morning walk to swimming practice. Suddenly a frantic figure rushes out of the bushes, scaring him half to death. Turns out that the weird guy is the grandfather of a new girl in Conrad’s class called Bex - she’s having problems because her grandfather is suffering severe anxiety attacks. Bex is into horses, while Conrad is into competitive swimming - and these two sports provide interesting backgrounds as Conrad tries to figure out how to help Bex and her ailing grandfather. There’s a nail-biting and deadly climax scene - but I’m not going to give the show away...The book holds you from the first page, ratcheting up the tension as the main plot and sub-plots unfold. The characters are likeable and genuine - and all are handled sympathetically by the author, even the bully. Heartily recommended for boys of about eleven to fourteen (girls will enjoy it too).
ISBN 978 1 77543 132 9 RRP $18.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Sinking by David Hill (Scholastic)
Early one morning as a young teen named Conrad is crossing the park on the way to swim training, an old man runs out of the bushes. He is shouting about someone called Ted. Conrad is shaken by this but doesn’t tell anyone at the pools. Not even his best mate Jaz who is also training for the Nationals.
Back at school there is a new girl in Conrad’s class. She’s skinny, short and feisty and not scared of anyone – even guys much bigger than her. Conrad soon learns this girl (Bex) is in town to look after her grandfather – the same man who was ranting in the park. Bex is waiting for her mother to come to town to help but she is caught up with the shearing back on their farm.
As Conrad gets to know Bex, she introduces him to her grandfather, George Abbott. Conrad gets on well with him and wants to know why he was out so early and behaving strangely. He begins asking questions and his dad tells him of a local tragedy years before, where a young guy drowned in the strong current of the river. He’d argued with a friend over a girl and had been drinking. The friend was asleep on the bank at the time and not responsible, but had carried the guilt with him his entire life. That man was George Abbott.
As Conrad’s friendship with Bex builds, her trust in him grows. She tells Conrad that George’s wanderings have got worse since his wife died and when he goes missing one day, Conrad is the first person she calls for help. George has left a note. Where can he be? Will they find him before something terrible happens?
Conrad and Bex race to the river on the back of her horse towards an action packed finale, to face another near tragedy.
Sinking is a fabulous story full of believable characters and David Hill’s wonderful wit. Conrad made me laugh out loud and I felt for George and his battle with early Alzheimer’s.
Reviewed by Adele Broadbent