By S. L. Hughes
Reviewed by Gary McKay
The shout line of this novel reads A Truly Australian Story and so it is. It would be hard to find a story that captures the Australian way of life in the 1970s like this. Left Hook resonates as deeply as the Australian Hemi motor that is harnessed in one of the main characters of the book as we follow the story of a couple of likely young lads who carry the thread of the story. Steven Hughes has put together a very readable story that deals with many issues which are now hitting contemporary Australia and other places world-wide. The realisation that soldiers who may not be physically wounded in action in combat can still become casualties and suffer just as much as their colleagues who catch a stray bullet or get blown up or shredded with artillery shrapnel is well drawn out.
This is a book for a wide readership because it deals with family issues and is more than just the love of muscle cars that are featured on the cover of the book. Sure, it has a strong 'blokey' feel about it, but the story is beautifully intertwined with challenging issues surrounding family and friends, and from the main characters’ perspective – his best mate.
The strength of this novel lies in the well-crafted dialogue that keeps the pages turning and sweeps the reader toward a credible conclusion. It has moments that will take the reader through a range of emotions, and even this reviewer who was involved in the early stages of the construction of the book, was moved to tears in the penultimate chapter. Such is the strength of the prose that has captured the issue of post-traumatic stress and its wide-ranging after effects on the individual and those closest to the person trying to deal with the symptoms of the disorder.
It is a story of strength, of love, occasional lies and above all honour to ones’ self and to family.
Left Hook, Stephen L. Hughes
Kiama NSW 2533
368 pp, paperback.
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