So, there I am, on a floating geriatric ward, with a bookworm mother and two escapees from a prime-time sitcom, wondering how I'm going to keep from going crazy over the next two weeks. I glance down at the gangplank, where the last few stranglers are making their way on-board - a girl about my age, in a wheelchair, being pushed carefully by her father; followed by three twenty-something guys with more bling between them than an MTV rap video, who look like they're beginning to realise that this isn't the sexy-single pleasure cruise they thought they'd booked on for- and... well, and... Jenna Hamilton.
Told as a dual narrative, a writing style Caswell has made his own, between fourteen-and-a-half-year-old Jules Macaffrey and Suzi Q. After Jules' mother wins a cruise for four on the Polynesian Queen, he discovers it's really a floating 'geriatric ward' with very little choice of companionship other than his sixteen-year-old, dancing-obsessed cousin Adrian, the very beautiful Jenna (also sixteen), wheelchair bound Suzi Q and bully Barry Barnes.
Falling madly in love with the unobtainable Jenna, Jules develops a strong friendship with Suzi as she steers Jules through his unrequited love- with unexpected results.
The South Pacific provides an exotic backdrop for this exploration of first love, bullying and friendship told in a dual narrative- a writing style hat that Caswell has made own. One of the narrators is a boy at the age when his hormones are making themselves noticed but he is still not quite old enough to know what to do with these new feelings. All he knows is that they are making his hitherto obsession with computers and fantasy novels look... well....childish. The other narrator is a girl, older than her age and smarter than it is fashionable to be. In classic Caswell style, Brian steers is young adolescents through this coming-of-age novel with humour, compassion and great heart.
Brian Caswell was born in Wales, and emigrated Australia at the age of twelve. After some success in the music industry he became a teacher and worked for fifteen years in Sydney's south-west. Merryll of the Stones, Brian's first novel, was named Honour Book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards and this success led to a new career as young person's author. Since 1989, Brian has written twenty-five books which have received many awards and short listings, including the Children's Peace Literature Award, the Aurealis Award, the Australian Multicultural Children's Literature Award and the NSW Premier's Literary Award. All his published novels have been listed as Notable Books by the CBCA.
Brian lives on the NSW Central Coast with his wife Marlene. They have four children and five grandchildren. He plays and coaches basketball, designs cutting-edge educational programs, listens to all kinds of music (usually far too loud), watches an excessive number of movies and DVD's and is hopelessly addicted to soda water.
Author: Brian Caswell