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

Monday 21 November 2022

Review: The Edge Of Limits

I’ve spent the last 24 hours with a 17-year-old boy inside my head. Which would be quite disconcerting had I not also just finished reading the incredible The Edge Of Limits, from where the voice emanates.

Sam Knox is on an eight day school survival camp, and it is his voice and life that is so clear and strong and present with me right now. Celebrated author S J Gervay has written a searingly important book that addresses issues of connection, courage and consent with a visceral reality that is gripping from start to finish.

A coming of age story in every sense of the word, this intimate and compelling first-person narrative keeps the reader tumbling through the pages. 

Guided by our protagonist Sam who has seen things that he can’t unsee, we do a deep and instant dive into both the action-packed hike and Sam’s psyche.

Here, we are privy to bewilderment, grief and anger around his grandfather’s death, a confused silence in the aftermath of witnessing a classmate sexually assault a young girl, the belief that he is in love, disconnection, bitterness, surprise, concern. All of these things co-exist within Sam, and the reader is witness to them playing out - not in laboured exposition but rather, in such things as a punch to the arm, an aggressive one-liner or a helping hand out of a mud-pit.

There’s so much to like about this book and so much that’s confronting. The sentences are often clipped and choppy – perfectly representing the way Sam speaks and thinks. The action is thick and constant with no room for an outbreath, so the story is propelled forward at a cracking pace, and often with a sense of foreboding or menace. Then too, there are layers of tenderness, compassion and friendship.

Action-packed, heart-stoppingly thrilling, hormonal and quiet (sometimes all at the same time!), this hike through the NSW wilderness transports us, utterly, into the world of the adolescent male. Through Sam’s eyes and body, we travel the gamut of emotions with the intensity and sometime confusion of a teenage mind and body grappling with enormous issues.

This is indeed the story of a young man at the edge of limits.

On a threshold.

It’s unputdownable.

Read Susanne's recent Guest Post about her inspiration and hopes behind this powerful new novel.

Title: The Edge Of Limits 
Author: S J Gervay
Publisher: Flying Elephant, $15.99
Publication Date: November 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780648203551
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction