Book Reviews

Newborn by Agustin Maes

What Da Cover Says: Shafts of afternoon light rained through oak and willow and eucalyptus, the boys’ small faces stippled with fine golden sunspots as though behind lacework mourning veils knitted from shadow. They stood side-by-side at the edge of a broad yawn of creek bed, eyes bound to what they had discovered there amongst sedge and blackberry and wild rye. Neither spoke. But for birdsong and the muted hum of cars along the nearby avenue it was quiet, the creek gurgling softly in its summer-thinned course. A mizzle of sunbeams shone across the water in fingernail crescents, quick lustrous flashes where an overturned shopping cart formed a mounded swell. The boys remained in fainter light, motionless beside the small still pool of an inlet shaded by the steep bank’s tangle of tree roots. Water skimmers skated over the pond’s glassy surface, the insects’ needle-thin legs dimpling the youngsters’ reflections and the reflection of the infant at their feet, its image little more than a wavering smudge. ‘Jesus, ‘ one of them whispered…

What I Says: Stunning! This is one of those books that takes you behind the scenes of a news headline, removes your personal opinions on what happened and what sort of person carried out the act and shows you the true story of the people involved. The writing is beautiful, Maes has made the most of the setting, the images of the creek bed and surrounding area almost dazzle the reader with their vividness, it makes you feel that you are there to be a witness and the ensuing tragedy feels all the more real for being closer to the story than normal.

Our main character is Bitsy and the journey she is on is a lonely one in a harsh world, no matter what she does you feel for her, she may think she is on her own but every person who picks up this book will be there with her. One of my favourite things about this book was the side characters, they may have only had a very small part to play but you get their full story including life after the book ends, a smart thing to do in my opinion as it adds a lot of depth to this novella.

This is an incredibly moving story that will leave you with a heavy heart, highly recommended.

Thanks to Whiskey Tit Books for sending me this copy to review, another top book from this fantastic publisher.


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