Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Accident by Kate Hendrick

A rainy night. 

A car crash.

After the accident Sarah moves to a new school. A new place where no one knows what happened to her or her brother—where she doesn't have to deal with the history that's pulling the rest of her family apart. 

Will is keeping his head down at home, just trying to get by. Then his sister Lauren comes back—as caustic as always but somehow changed. Will doesn't know what upheaval brought her home. But it's sparking some serious change in his life too.

Eliat's got no mother of her own, and she's way too young to be one. Looking after a two-year-old, trying to finish school—sometimes all that keeps her sane is partying as hard and fast as she can. Now the pressure's building and Eliat just wants to get away.

Just get into a car and drive.

In this impressive and beautifully written debut, Kate Hendrick sets the butterfly effect in motion. The moving stories of three teenagers going through crucial changes—before, after and around the accident—show how random actions acquire significance. How one pivotal moment could transform your life and you might never know; how what you do matters.

I started The Accident on the day it arrived and was rewarded with that elusive feeling all book lovers seek after: picking up a book you know nothing about and realising within pages that it is going to be a new favourite. 

The first thing I loved about the Accident was the prose. Hendrick's prose is gorgeous, literary and emotive, some phrases/ideas/sentiments are just so well captured I had to pause and read them again, let them rest with me, before moving on. Likewise, the dialogue is so authentic I felt like I was eavesdropping rather than reading fiction.

The characters are flawed and vulnerable and wonderfully layered. Hendrick knows how to up the stakes, raise the tension and she is not kind to her characters (things are tough, things get tougher). They just bleed onto the pages in such an intimate and unpretentious way it was impossible for me not to ache for them.

Right in the middle of my photo wall is a text collage I spent hours making from newspaper headlines.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Gandhi said that; it used to fire me up, and now it only makes me feel tired. It's just not so simple anymore.  (page 9).

(A resounding yes to Sarah's thoughts, right down to my memories of making similar collages, things are not so simple after tragedy strikes.)

The plot: Things are not what they seem. The story is presented from three different POVs. Each POV covers a different time period. Sarah's chapters occur Later, Will's After and Eliat's Before. And the chapter's alternate so the story unfolds like so: Later, After, Before, Later, After, Before, Later, After, Before (and so on). Our three narrators paths are seemingly separate for the longest of times and I was continually trying to unjumble events, decode and predict everything. I think I made things more complicated for myself by trying to outsmart the book, haha. My advice: relax into the story and trust the author who has it all figured out. Also: the ending was not what I assumed it would be (loved that!). Once I arrived, I was able to look back and rethink things, figure things out. It's a smart and thoughtful book.

This is not a cruise-y, relaxing book for a rainy-day read. It's a little dark in places, introspective and beautifully hopeful. It is not a book full of cliffhangers, high moments of drama or raging tensions - yet it is effortlessly compelling, quietly, sneakily, powerful. Also, it feels so Australian -- the Sydney setting made it feel like home. 

I love the idea of three separate story strands coming together in a butterfly effect and I ended up loving this book. I'm really excited for it (and for other readers to discover it) and I think it's the perfect example of a crossover book -- The Accident will speak to teenagers and adult alike. Also, take a look at this quote from (fabulous and awesome author) Vicki Wakefield: 'A sophisticated, surprising and beautifully written novel about tangled lives and consequences. from the first pages, I knew how this story would end. I love being wrong.'

The Accident really struck a chord with me and I am still thinking about it. I'm really impressed with the quality and brilliance we keep seeing come from Text publishing. Readers of young adult fiction in Australia today are truly blessed.

The Accident comes out in Australia today :)

Thanks to Text Publishing for my review copy

The Accident @ goodreads
The Accident @ Text publishing

Author Kate Hendrick

Praise for Kate Hendrick and The Accident:

‘For me, it brought back the raw sting of familiarity of reading John Marsden for the first time. Like Marsden, Hendrick’s writing shows that sometimes families can let us down. Her vulnerable characters voice our secrets, remind us we are not alone and offer a light at the end of the tunnel.’
Australian Bookseller & Publisher


  1. I loved this too, Nomes! Espesh the Sydney setting, it's set near where I live and it made it so special for me.

    I was trying to figure it all out, too! But I realised that was getting in the way, so I forgot about that and just got to know the characters. Such a powerful story!

    Beautiful review :)

  2. Ah! After yours and Mandee's reviews I'm dying to read this!

  3. Adding this to my wishlist, your review convinced me that I should definitely check it out. So many amazing Aussie YA novels out there!


Thanks for the commenty love :)