Written by Steph Bowe
Contemporary, Diverse, #LoveOzYA
Published April 3rd 2017
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Imagine being the only two seventeen year olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow, named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history and her best friend Clancy Lee, would be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried, her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s milk soap making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
Seventeen year old Kirby Arrow is one of two adolescents in the small country town of Alberton and has no inclination of departing. In their small ramshackle house, Kirby cares for her grandfather while her mother runs a small business from home. Kirby is a kind and compassionate young woman and devoted to caring for her grandfather who has been diagnosed with dementia, portrayed wonderfully with tenderness. Her mother is a stern woman who is insistent that Kirby experience the world beyond Alberton and her novice carpentry apprenticeship.
I cherished Kirby's relationship with the absurdly fabulous Clancy. Clancy is Chinese Australian in a predominately Caucasian town and an only child to parents who own a local family restaurant. Clancy is flamboyant with Broadway aspirations, waiting until he finishes his schooling to travel the well worn path to Sydney. Leaving Kirby behind. Although both Kirby and Clancy were raised in Alberton, Clancy yearns to connect with other adolescents who share a similar heritage. I appreciated Clancy initiating the conversation of inclusiveness, as it allowed Kirby to understand his perspective.
The new restaurateurs daughter is an exquisite and free spirited young woman, relocating to Alberton from New Zealand. Clancy is enamoured by Iris and devises an elaborate scheme to earn her affections. An amateur youth theatre group. I loved the tentative romance between Kirby and Iris, although Kirby attempts to resist the attraction and places her in quite the predicament. An impeccable example of fluid sexuality as orientation is never discussed.
The diversity of characters were wonderfully portrayed. Clancy is Chinese Australian and Iris is a biracial. Indian decent and formerly living in New Zealand. The narrative touches on socioeconomic, sexuality, mental illness and a neurological impairment as Kirby's grandfather is diagnosed with Dementia.
Night Swimming is absolutely glorious! A charismatic, delightful and amusing narrative of a small country town, falling in love and immense dreams. Categorically enchanting and captivating until the final page.