Publication Date: 1st February 2013
Book Source: From author for review
Synopsis: Charlie Lansdowne’s life is going nowhere ... fast.
Trapped at home with his eccentric father and his stroke-affected grandfather, he finds life a daily exercise in dysfunction as three generations of men strive to get along. But when Charlie meets the volatile and tempestuous Maxine – a surfer girl who works at the local abattoir – his life goes supernova. Friendships implode, passions ignite and death comes stalking in the night.
I read James Laidler's free verse novel The Taste Of Apple in 2011 and loved it so when James asked if I'd be interested in reading his latest novel I jumped at the chance. Set in the Australian seaside town of Warrnambool, Pulling Down The Stars has a standard narrative with smatterings of song lyrics and poems but there's nothing standard about the poignant and powerful lyrical style I first fell in love with in The Taste Of Apple.
I liked the fact that Charlie and Max (Maxine) were outside the norm of YA fiction protagonists; Charlie with a nursing position in a psychiatric ward, living with his father Roger (who's an absolute gem) and his stroke-effected grandfather Frank, and Max, a surfing abattoir worker.
No insta-love for Charlie and Max, (phew) I loved the way their romance developed, like them - a little left-field but relatable and very likeable. Actually James 'does' characterisation brilliantly, you really get a feel for the characters, even the minor players.
I wanted to keep this short but just have to mention these two things:
- I never thought I'd say this but as gag-worthy as I find abbatoirs, I was completely fascinated by the descriptions of the different stations at the Carrington Meats.
- For me, the 'thriller' element was a peripheral subplot that neither added nor detracted from the story ... it just ... was.
Pulling Down The Stars is a beautiful, quirky story revealing love in all its facets and highlighting 'family' can encompass and mean many things. There's just something very addictive about James Laidler's writing, I could seriously read it all day!
Check out James Laidler's website for more information about this talented Australian author.