A young boy in small-town Australia gradually discovers the world around him.
Jimmy Smith lives in the little village of Point Henry, not far from Melbourne, in a region that is still open country in 1969 but is soon to become heavily developed. He lives with his grandparents and his parents and some of his uncles in his grandfather’s house—a large extended family that seems to get along remarkably well. Nine-year-old Jimmy’s world is still made up of little more than his family and school, and he spends most of his spare time chasing mischief with his friends. His best pals are Keith Brandon, Owen Carter, and Scott Waters. Keith was badly burned in an accident and wears a sack over his head to prevent infection; he also has a really big thingy. Nearby live the Gorries, Seventh-Day Adventists whom everybody finds a bit odd, although Andrew Gorry is a friend of Jimmy’s and Mrs. Gorry grew up in New York City. Jimmy’s teacher is Mrs. Scanlon, and one of the other teachers, Mr. Diamond, was caught making out with a senior girl in a car. Jimmy’s Dad likes to go to the greyhound races, and he shoots tin cans with an air rifle in the backyard. Jimmy’s grandfather once accidentally killed a man in a wood-chopping contest when his axe head came loose: he’s never entered the contest since. The moon landing is on everyone’s mind this particular summer, and the war in Vietnam casts a grim shadow across Australia. But for the most part, Jimmy learns about the larger meanings of life from his neighbors.
Too small a world to be interesting: nicely written and sincere, but Lacey’s unpretentious debut badly needs a touch of the unusual.