This is a very original story, told in two separate viewpoints, both teenage boys called William, separated by 200 years of history.
The contemporary boy, Will Richards is a fifteen-year-old boy just trying to do his best in the face of neglect.
Historical William is also a teenager, living hand-to-mouth in nineteenth century London and transported to NSW for theft. He is also quite ambitious. Having heard that some convicts had bettered themselves once they had been freed, he is determined that he should one day become a person of importance in the colony.
It becomes obvious that although the two Williams are separated by two centuries, they share a link. Will Richards has memories about events on his grandparents’ property that he should know nothing about. Nunn weaves the clues between the two narratives.
I like that although this is a type of ghost story, it eschews any of the tropes associated with ghosts. No jump scares, no spooky figures, no sudden drops in temperature. Just odd memories, as if the historical William is whispering in contemporary Will’s ear.
The writing is simply beautiful and the characters come alive in clear detail.
My only criticism is that whilst Nunn included some very confronting and historically accurate details of a massacre of First Nations people, there were no First Nations people in the contemporary thread to underscore the theme of the ongoing impact of historical tragedies, or to serve as a stark reminder of the reality of intergenerational trauma, which Nunn poignantly illustrates in his depiction of the relationship between Will and his grandfather. A missed opportunity.
Teachers’ notes are available.
And you could win a copy of this marvelous book – details to be announced shortly.
Title: Echo in the memory
Author: Cameron Nunn
Publisher: Walker, $ 19.99
Publication Date: 2 June 2021
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction
July 7, 2021 at 01:32AM Jo-Ann S