Peta Jo is the pseudonym for a Hervey Bay based writer, journalist and sub-editor. The Crushing Season is her second novel and is set in her own hometown of Bundaberg, best known for its sugar and rum! 🙂
In the smoky haze of a small town’s cane harvesting season, May grew up as the silent bearer of her father’s vicious beatings. But four schoolmates save her with the simple act of their friendship.
Now in their thirties and busy with their own lives, the four friends are unaware how important they still are to May: Tate, a ballsy newspaper subeditor is struggling with her new role as mother; Alex, a bohemian soul has let his anxiety get in the way of his future happiness; Leah, the “boy mad” gal is one French backpacker away from her next heartbreak; and Benny, a die-hard romantic is about to give up his dreams and surrender the fantasy of being with the one girl he’s ever loved… Leah.
But it’s May that holds them together with her boundless compassion and she is about to do something that will change their lives forever.
The old adage suggests authors write what they know and it’s very obvious Peta Jo has done exactly that. Although some of her characters live in the state capital of Brisbane, most of the action takes place in Bundaberg and there are a lot of references to local landmarks and customs, like the burning of sugar cane. Her intimate knowledge of the area permeates the book, offering a great sense of ‘place’.
What I enjoyed most about this book however, is that it took me back to my own childhood and school years. I too grew up in a small regional centre and spent almost all of my first 17 years surrounded by a steady group of friends. A small cadre of us continue to catch up on a regular basis and Peta Jo does a good job of explaining how it’s possible to pick up where you left off with these people who share much of your history and, in particular, your formative years.
The book is very much about friendships as well as relationships—between family members, lovers and married couples.
The first part of the book was occasionally a little slow for me, providing backstory and scene-setting. However, the pace improved after the turning point which brings the friends together and has them questioning their relationships and assumptions about each other.
It’s a book which will have you pondering your own friendships and thinking about ‘home’ and what that means to you.
The Crushing Season by Peta Jo is self-published and will shortly be released. Check out Peta Jo’s website for details of where to get your copy.
I received a copy of the book from the author for review purposes.