3.68 (529 ratings by Goodreads)
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Lara's parents are divorced and she hardly remembers her father. But when her mother dies, he takes her to live with him, deep in the Australian outback. Living so far away from everything familiar, Lara fears she will never be accepted and loved - until she meets a mysterious dog, more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 111 x 176 x 24mm | 180g
  • Hachette Children's Group
  • Hodder Children's Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0340739886
  • 9780340739884
  • 1,625,235

Review Text

In her first YA novel, an Australian author vividly portrays present-day farmers in New South Wales's coastal rain forest. Lara has just lost her mother to cancer; a search by kindly neighbors turns up Dad, whom she barely remembers. The two quickly form a comfortable bond, but Dad's new wife, Gladwyn, and their four kids are less welcoming. Gladwyn's resentment borders on hatred; she declares openly that there's no room for Lara in the one-room shack where they live, eking out a meager living from a vegetable garden and hoping to make a profit on newly planted palm seedlings. Dad is gone on business, with almost no communication, for months; a neighbor who rides on Lara's school bus is a cruel bully. Grieving for her mother, Lara at first receives scant comfort except from Thunderwith, a dog she encounters in the hills. In time, she also makes friends with a sympathetic aboriginal storyteller, while her new siblings, one by one, come to love her. Even Gladwyn - revealed to have had a loveless upbringing that, added to relentless work and long separations from Dad, has left her stern and unyielding - finally comes around, but not until after Thunderwith's tragic death. The fine range of believable characters and authentic detail here make up for the several rough spots and loose ends: e.g., Dad's absence is inadequately explained, and the dog doesn't come to life enough to make Lara's attachment to him seem vital. Still, a well-written, absorbing debut. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

'Tags such as 'ambitious' and 'rich' will undoubtedly be affixed to Thunderwith - and deservedly so. The author's control over her complex subject is admirable; her insight into character sure and true; her ear for dialogue keen...the author has achieved something remarkable' -- Literary Journal 'a rich, absorbing novel' -- Quadrant 'Hathorn deftly injects a sense of wonderment into this intense, very real story. Readers cannot help but be swept up in the action and emotion.' -- Publishers Weeklyshow more

Rating details

529 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 29% (156)
4 31% (165)
3 25% (134)
2 6% (32)
1 8% (42)
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