I’ve spent the
last 24 hours with a 17-year-old boy inside my head. Which would be quite
disconcerting had I not also just finished reading the incredible The Edge
Of Limits, from where the voice emanates.
Sam Knox is on
an eight day school survival camp, and it is his voice and life that is so
clear and strong and present with me right now. Celebrated author S J Gervay has
written a searingly important book that addresses issues of connection, courage
and consent with a visceral reality that is gripping from start to finish.
A coming of age
story in every sense of the word, this intimate and compelling first-person narrative
keeps the reader tumbling through the pages.
Guided by our protagonist Sam who
has seen things that he can’t unsee, we do a deep and instant dive into both the
action-packed hike and Sam’s psyche.
Here, we are privy to bewilderment, grief and anger around his grandfather’s
death, a confused silence in the aftermath of witnessing a classmate sexually
assault a young girl, the belief that he is in love, disconnection, bitterness,
surprise, concern. All of these things co-exist within Sam, and the reader is
witness to them playing out – not in laboured exposition but rather, in such
things as a punch to the arm, an aggressive one-liner or a helping hand out of
There’s so much
to like about this book and so much that’s confronting. The sentences are often
clipped and choppy – perfectly representing the way Sam speaks and thinks. The
action is thick and constant with no room for an outbreath, so the story is
propelled forward at a cracking pace, and often with a sense of foreboding or
menace. Then too, there are layers of tenderness, compassion and friendship.
heart-stoppingly thrilling, hormonal and quiet (sometimes all at the same time!),
this hike through the NSW wilderness transports us, utterly, into the world of
the adolescent male. Through Sam’s eyes and body, we travel the gamut of emotions
with the intensity and sometime confusion of a teenage mind and body grappling
with enormous issues.
This is indeed
the story of a young man at the edge of limits.
On a threshold.
Read Susanne’s recent Guest Post about her inspiration and hopes behind this powerful new novel.
Title: The Edge Of Limits
Publisher: Flying Elephant, $15.99
Publication Date: November 2022
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction