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Hinterland

Hinterland by LM Brown is about Nicholas Giovanni and his love for his daughter Kate. That love is apparent throughout the novel. Kate’s mother, Kathleen, is mentally unwell and the arrival of Ina, Nicholas’s childhood best friend, sends her over the edge. Violence ends with Kathleen admitted to the hospital. Nicholas can’t bring himself to tell Ina the truth about Kathleen’s last day, nor can he tell Kate the truth about where her mother is, and this secret ultimately causes Kate to run away. Kate running away forces Nicholas to confront these truths.

Hinterland is about dysfunctional families and mental illness. Understanding mental illness is important, yet we still live in a world where it has a stigma attached. This book explores that stigma. The opening has a very gloomy feeling, which for me captures the way Nicholas seems to feel. His entire life centers around driving his taxi and his daughter and not much else. With the return of Ina and Kathleen being admitted to the hospital, it ought to have been an opportunity for Nicholas to come out of the gloom. But he seems afraid to do that and is weighed down by the burden of what happened the day Kathleen was admitted to hospital. I struggled to find a connection to Nicholas. I could sympathize with Ina, with her frustrations at being back with the man she loves, yet only being fed breadcrumbs from him. She almost has a family life with the relationship she develops with Kate, yet Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length, his secrets building a barrier between him and all those he loves.

The pace of the book is slow, building up the tension to the end of the book when Nicholas must try to rescue his family. I found the first half of the book to be slow, but I understand that was necessary to build the story. I think there was the potential for more drama and conflict, although given his past, it seems apt that Nicholas strives to avoid this. He is a silent, brooding character, keeping many parts of himself locked up, even from those who love him. I would have preferred to see Nicholas open up a little more though, he was difficult to connect with. The book does a great job of trying to portray the difficulties involved in living with mental illness in the family.

Pages: 338 | ISBN: 1947917587

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