A blog that discusses literature for young people.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"Fireshadow" by Anthony Eaton

Fireshadow tells the parallel stories of Erich, a young German POW and Vinnie, a modern day teenager.

Erich is a young German soldier who has been sent to a POW camp in the remote bushland of Western Australia. At the onset of the story he finds himself in conflict about the ease with which his fellow comrades have adapted to life in the POW camp. He is assigned to work as a medical orderly with Doctor Alexander and although he is offered friendship as well as a job from the Australian doctor, Erich struggles against it. Then, just before he is due to be shipped home, Erich falls in love with the Doctor's niece.

Vinnie has recently lost his sister in a road accident that left him with severe burns. He feels that his family blame him for his sister's death and so runs away to the bush to camp at the site of the old POW camp. There he runs into a 70 year old Erich who has returned to the site one last time with his granddaughter Helen. Together they both resolve issues of the past and help each other to move on.

Eton's Fireshadow is quite an epic read. Although it's peppered with clichés and predictability the reader is still left with a strong connection with the characters and their struggles.

I feel that the first half of the book would particularly appeal to a young male readership with military references and descriptions of bush survival but then there is a marked shift in the second half of the book. Here we start to see a more female-oriented storyline emerge as Eaton focuses a lot of attention on Erich's young love Alice, and her feeling and reactions during pregnancy.

Although I enjoyed this book, I imagine that only very enthusiastic young readers will persevere through Eaton’s often lengthy descriptions of settings, actions and feelings.

Fireshadow was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Award in the Older Readers category in 2005 and was named as an Honour Book.


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