Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Cracks by Sheila Kohler
This book is frequently compared to Lord of the Flies, but it is not about the breakdown of civilised behaviour outside of adult intervention. The adults in the novel are intrinsic to the events that unfold, events which have been covered over and only brought back into the light when the protaganists meet many years after they have taken place.
Obsession, jealousy and control feature throughout. The story describes a descent from polite convention to shocking betrayal and the reader is submerged in the claustraphobic atmosphere of a South African boarding school. The girls each have different reasons for needing to belongand the swimming team offers them that sense of self worth that they lack. It is this neediness that takes them all relentlessly to the catastrophe that will haunt their adult lives.
Atmospheric and engaging, Kohler's novel captures the desperation of puberty and the danger of suppressing your true self.