I’m lifting my voice here, adding to the choirs singing praise about Trent Dalton’s latest novel, All our shimmering skies. His debut novel, Boy swallows universe, largely autobiographical, was a huge success and his second book is full of just as much magic and heartbreak and quirky characters and unexpected events as his first.
Apart from the gorgeous cover, indicative of the beautiful Darwin outback where a large part of the book is set, have a look at the title. Perhaps it is the word ‘shimmering’ or ‘skies’ that jumps out at first. But it’s the word ‘our’ which gives Trent Dalton’s readers a clear hint of his story – ‘our’ has connotations of inclusivity, generosity, openness and connection.
I have listened to a few recent interviews with Trent through Readings and The First Time podcast, and Trent is all about ‘our’.
All our shimmering skies is the story of twelve-year-old Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, who sets off on a journey when bombs start hitting her home town of Darwin in 1942. She’s trying to revoke the curse Longcoat Bob, an almost mythical outback character, placed on her grandfather which has caused her family no end of sorrow and hardship.
In one of his interviews, Trent told us that one of his young daughters asked him why he had written about two brothers in his first book when he had two daughters. He also told us that he used to look up at the sky to talk after his father died. It was these two incidents or feelings or ideas which connected to create the seed of All our shimmering skies.
I love the mix of real-life events and mythology, the sadness of Molly’s life combined with her hopeful spirit, the wonderful descriptive writing and the unlikely but absolutely believable ‘sky gifts’. This book will become an Australian classic.