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Although the characters are simpler than, say, those of The Riders, or Dirt Music, they are still realistic, and children and adults will warm to the good hearted Abel, and his aging but independent and strong mother.
Winton called this novel a contemporary fable, and there is certainly a clear and obvious moral with a positive answer to the question of how can we live in the modern world with our morality and respect for the environment intact.
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball Blueback By Tim Winton Illustrations by Andrew Davidson ISBN: 0330361627, Originally published November 1997 Reprint May 2004 A$22.00, softcover Abel Jackson lives with his mother Dora by the sea at Longboat Bay where they live a hand to mouth but idyllic life, where they dive for abalone.
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This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of , it’s intent is clearly to deliver this message and make younger readers think critically about how the environment is being treated and what they can do to take action.
When Abel sees Costello “stripping the reef bare” he goes out and stops him and in the process saves Blueback. Another example of Abel being unselfish is when Longboat Bay is almost ruined by an oil spill and Abel rushes to call his mother to see if she’s alright.
Another important character is Costello the antagonist and the reader is invited to be critical of his actions towards the environment. This is shown in the quote “That summer he learnt that there was nothing in nature as a cruel and savage human being.” This quote “ The deck of Costello’s boat was awash with blood..lay in huge slippery mounds and so many of them were undersize...Western Australia author Tim Winton wrote a novel called Blueback.In the novel Abel is passionate about the sea, Abel fights for what he believes in which is protecting the sea and the environment.Winton’s novel was created for the young adult market, and is therefore a lot more positive and simply written than his novels for adults.It is perfectly suitable for a good readers as young as six (my six year old read it in one afternoon and loved it), but will also appeal to teenagers and even adults.Their lives are not easy, but they have enough, and Able spends his days exploring the ocean, which he finds exhilarating and intimidating.Dora tells Able that Jacksons have lived there for a very long time, and the two clearly have an idyllic existence.Winton does it easily though, and Blueback is also a tender and lovely story which adults will enjoy reading quickly.The subtle linking between the old and clever Blueback and Abel’s lost/dead father adds a layer of depth to the story, as does Abel’s own search for meaning in his life as he grows up without his father or other father figures, and as his perception of his mother and the world in which he grew up changes.But Abel has to go away to school, and after Mad Macka, another friend of Blueback’s, dies, a mean and greedy fisherman named Costello, a “reef stripper”, takes over and begins taking “everything he sees.” Abel and Dora do what they can to put a stop to Costello, but time moves forward and things change.Blueback is a story about love, loss, growing up, and above all, living with respect for our beautiful and natural environment.