'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Review: Off the Map

Collections of short stories are not published frequently enough to satisfy those who love compact reading. Scot Gardner’s gripping collection in Off the Map, will surprise and satisfy even the most discerning reader.

One thing that connects these life situations is the setting. Each story is a profile of a young person on the cusp of adulthood, some dilemma they are experiencing or some wisdom that they will gain. In many, there is an unexpected twist which you won’t see coming that will throw you off balance, in a good way.

Filled with life lessons, these superbly structured stories mirror the Australian landscape and all its beauty and challenges, which are also reflected in the characters’ lives.

Trying to list the themes that are covered is like presenting a list of a restaurant’s menu.

There is the naturalness of death, the lack of importance for a materialistic world, secrets kept from children by their parents and the pain at their revelation, how truth can be stranger than fiction, the abject fear of being alone on an isolated property during a storm without power, music and the different things it means to different people, family breakdown, and what glues families together including grief and loss.

The desserts are not listed, but are there to be discovered.

Every word is in its place and there for a purpose. Gardner knows his characters intimately, and reveals their weaknesses and strengths, and their natural place in the world.

This is for picking up and putting down. But there is no guarantee that you will be able to put it down once you have started. Too good for words!

Title: Off the Map
Author: Scot Gardner
Publisher:Allen & Unwin, $19.99
Publication Date: 30 March 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760877101
For ages: 14 – 18
Young Adult Fiction