The following article written by Allison Paterson appeared in ‘Magpies’ – May 2009.
The Nest (2009)
Paul Jennings, Penguin. 248pp
978 0 14 300800 2 $19.95 Pb
Readers of Paul Jennings have a certain expectation; an author for younger readers with a quirky humourous approach that inspires the most reluctant of readers. The Nest is a remarkable departure in style, content and audience. Robin Gordon is 16-years-old; he lives with his controlling father in a Victorian alpine village. He believes his mother abandoned the family when he was a baby and that it was his fault, a belief manipulated by his father. Robin is a sensitive adolescent who withdraws to his story writing to escape his father and the obsessive, violent thoughts that plague his mind and which are beginning to control his live. As the story develops he escapes his father and, through misunderstanding, he runs from the girl he loves to one who also controls, all the time coming closer to realising the truth of his suspicions regarding the death of his mother. The appearances of the ‘nest’ early in the novel foreshadows events later to occur while the use of metaphor through Robin’s stories is cleverly intertwined and central to each phase of the story. It is a dark, intense psychological thriller that deals with fear, violence and mental illness but manages to achieve a positive, uplifting message through first person narration.
The Nest also explores parent/child relationships and young love.
This is a significant contribution to young adult literature that reflects the depth and skill of Paul Jennings.
Highly recommended for older readers of Secondary School level.
Permission for this article was given by ‘Magpies’