Saturday, 4 February 2012

Review: Swerve by Phillip Gwynne

One of Australia's finest young cellists, 16 year-old Hugh Twycross has a very bright future. A future that has been mapped out by his parents, his teachers, by everybody, it seems, except Hugh Twycross. Hugh has a secret, though: he loves cars and he loves car racing. When his newly discovered grandfather, Poppy, asks him to go on a road trip to Uluru in his 1970 Holden HT Monaro, Hugh decides, for once in his life, to do the unexpected.
As they embark on a journey into the vast and fierce landscape of the Australian interior, Hugh discovers that Poppy has a secret that will unravel both their lives and take them in a direction they never expected. - Blurb from Goodreads.

Hugh Twycross is a guy who knows where he’s going in life. A private school boy with a cello audition at the prestigious Conservatorium, Hugh is not one to diverge from the straight and narrow path of his life. That is until Poppy, the grandfather Hugh never knew existed, suggests a road trip to Ayres rocks in his 1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350 V8. And from than on out the straight and narrow starts to get a bit curvy as Hugh and Poppy venture out into the dangerously beautiful Australian terrain.

Swerve is a classic road trip story set against an Australian backdrop that bursts with imagery and realism. The dusty red surrounds and wide-open endless bitumen roads provide the perfect setting this hair-raising coming of age road trip. Road trips in young adult fiction give teenage characters the ability to break free from the humdrum of everyday life and to be spontaneous, experience new things and meet different kinds of people away from the watchful gaze of parents. 

Swerve differs slightly from others in this genre as it is Poppy, an older parental figure (who is somewhat of a hippy), who forces Hugh to take this journey of self-discovery and gets him to let loose. The relationship between Hugh and Poppy is the heartwarming highlight of this story, as throughout their journey they grow closer and bond over their shared love of Holden cars. It is entertaining to watch as Poppy’s “Screw that” attitude gets rubbed off on to straight-laced Hugh, and the book provides many disturbingly comedic moments, as well as touching on some serious issues. 

All-in-all, Swerve is a quintessential Aussie road trip story, with enough adventure, twists and turns, and grunt to captivate even those amongst us who don’t know a Torana from a Toyota.

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