The Sea-wreck Stranger

I’ve wanted to write a post about this book for quite a while but have been confounded by the fact that I have too much to say about it. The temptation to write a ‘spoiler’ is so strong that I’ve resisted writing about it at all.

I first heard of this New Zealand author last year when the NZ writer Brigid Lowry emailed me and said she’d been reading a fantastic new work of YA called “The Sea Wrack Tangle’ by Anna Mackenzie as it had just won the NZ Post Award. And then Brigid immediately wrote again to say it was actually called ‘The Sea-Wreck Stranger’. But both titles seemed intriguing and I kept an eye out for it in Australian bookshops. Then, serendipitously, I was sent a copy by Text publishers who were about to publish an Australian edition of the book. They asked if I would consider writing a comment to go on the cover, if I happened to like the story.

It’s a little nerve-wracking reading a book on the premise that you might have to email the publishers and tell them you have nothing good to say about the work. So I was enormously relieved to find I simply fell into this novel and was totally absorbed by the world that Anna Mackenzie had created for her character Ness.

This is the comment I sent to Text for inclusion on the back cover of the Australian edition:

“I love Ness, her story, her strength, and her passionate intensity. A sea- wrecked stranger, an island of dark secrets and a heroine who isn’t afraid to discover the difficult truth make for a gripping, unputdownable read.”

Tonight I’m speaking at an event that the Centre for Youth Literature are hosting at the State Library of Victoria called “What’s New in Books for Teenagers?”. I’ll definitely be discussing The Ship-wreck Stranger as a book that captures the zeitgeist in YA fiction. In some very subtle ways, McKenzie’s book explores different aspects of the ideas that I was preoccupied with when I wrote Vulture’s Gate, which I’ll also be talking about. CYL staff will be discussing the latest releases in their knowledgeable way too so I’m hoping to come home with a swag full of inspired reading.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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