TO THE WILD SKY by Ivan Southall


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Harrowing adventure with psychological implications turns to interpersonal sparring in Mr. Southall's third American appearance, with a drop in the suspense that made Ash Road (1966) an excruciating reading experience. But the initial involvement is very strong indeed.... Five fourteen-year-olds, and the younger brother of one of them, set off with various misgivings for a weekend at a remote Australian cattle station. Aloft in a small private plane, they begin to disintegrate physically and psychologically, individually and collectively. Without warning, the pilot is struck dead by a heart attack. Gerald, the host, has a smattering of knowledge of flying. For seven hours, alternately tense and self-contained, he keeps the plane aloft, unable to locate his position, unable to land--until ""they seemed to have been...imprisoned for days, waiting to die."" At last...a break in the unknown beach...and they are down in the surf. How to survive, whether to attempt a return or await rescue, involves them in immobilizing disagreement and furthers their individual development, for better and worse. The conclusion-- surprising in a juvenile--is a standoff: no hope of rescue, a slight hope of survival. Some small silliness--one girl is an eighth aborigine, puts her ear to the ground to hear ancestral murmurings--weakens the story, and the rather adult entanglement of the characters limits its appeal, but their airborne experience is shattering to share.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1967
Publisher: St. Martin's Press