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Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf Hardcover – 27 Dec 2004


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Review

"A finely poised, deeply engaging book." (The Telegraph)

"Hauntingly beautiful ... A complex, introspective novel with vivid characters." (School Library Journal)

"The possible sighting of a thylacine, an extinct wolf-like dog, provides the backdrop for this story of 23-year-old Satchel O'Rye, the son of a mentally ill father and a long-suffering mother. The family lives in a hardscrabble town in Australia. Satchel struggles to cope while the family sinks deeper into debt. The search for the extinct animal offers a way out of this stultifying life. Suzi Dougherty's Australian accent is appropriate to the setting, and her matter-of-fact reading is well suited for the bleakness of Satchel's life. Though her portrayals of different characters are not as varied or distinct as those of some readers, her sympathetic tone is pleasant and easy to listen to." (AudioFile Magazine) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

An original and gifted novel from the internationally acclaimed author of Surrender and Of a Boy. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A sojurn in the Aussie wasteland of dry country 27 Nov 2004
By Kotori - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Deep in Australian outback country, one boy struggles to find his place. Mirroring his struggle is a creature who is native and yet out of place - glimpsed and dreamed of, but never conclusively seen.

He dreams of leaving the country and moving to the city, going to university, getting a job, anything to get away from the dry arid land, the father who won't communicate with him, and the futureless town.

It's a dry slow book, and although Sonya Hartnett manages to imbue it with the same mystical feeling of her other books, such as Thursday's Child or The Black Foxes, is is more like the former than the later.

Interesting but not riviting.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Against terrible odds it had saved itself..." 10 Mar 2008
By Steven Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Twentysomething Satchel O'Rye is stuck in a small country town at the end of the world - a "dark, nasty, dingy little pit where nothing's allowed to happen". Flanked by a dormant volcano and a snarling freeway, he's emotionally hemmed in, too, by a delusionally religious father and a long-suffering mother. Yet he's unwilling to break familial ties and follow his friend to the city, or take up an offer of well-paid work on the coast. Then, while gathering wood in the bush one day, he sees what local outcast Chelsea Piper believes is a Thylacine - a.k.a the Tasmanian Tiger, a dog-like marsupial extinct on the Australian mainland for over 3000 years... Like much of Hartnett's strikingly original work, this novel has suburban despair, damaged youngsters, wounded animals and the constant threat of violence. It also has her trademark compassion - you cannot help but feel for Satchel and Chelsea. Though you know much of their pain is self-inflicted, they're struggling to live their lives in the best way they know how. In terms of craft, it's an interesting novel for young adult readers for the way it introduces them to the idea of extended metaphor: the "sidestep wolf" is a symbol of the art of survival in seemingly impossible circumstances, a challenge Satchel must ultimately face. It's also interesting for the way Hartnett uses landscape to create an oppressive atmosphere: many novels "celebrate" the alienating ugliness of the Australian environment - both natural and built - but here, the weird melancholy of this "fantastic land of monstrosities" (as Marcus Clarke once famously tagged it) is more vividly depicted than usual. The relentlessly bleak mood might overwhelm some readers to the point of setting the book aside, but they'll miss a beautiful ending if they give up - quite an apt consequence, given the novel's theme! Recommended.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Captivating start - why'd you leave me hanging? 29 Mar 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
By Dorothy Franks

Through the eyes of a teenage boy, Satchel, the end of the town is near. People are leaving; Satchel's best friend is leaving. This is not Satchel's main problom though. His father is becoming more sickly and depressed every day and his mother is working night shifts at the hospital with dry and cracked hands smashing pills for the injured. He has to get away on to the mountain away from the deteriating town. One day while up in the mountains to get away, Satchel spots a strange creature with stripes on its back, body like a cat, nose like a dog, and eyes and instincts of a lion. Satchel seeks the help of Chelsea in identifying it; the creature is an EXTINCT MARSUPIAL FROM AUSTRALIA! A thylacine that incidently is in the mountains in their town. Should Chelsea and Satchel tell anyone? It would bring back the life of the town. But what about the thylacine, its past of bounties and mast huntings to the point of "extinction".

Stripes of the sidestep wolf was a wonderful book; it had a fantastic beginning and middle, but the end oohhhhh. At the end I felt as though the author left me stranded in the middle of space. Now there are possible reasons- 1.That stopping there was a "just because it felt like a good spot" or 2. Sonya has in mind a sequal, though adding anything to this book would be hard.
subdued quality 26 May 2014
By Stephen Constantelos - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
While reading this understated, well-written if not always riveting story, I found myself penciling notes in the inside cover, either pages that capture the "sidestep wolf" well, or just fine imagery, the first on page 4: "The land beyond the rust-riddled sheds was a dirty brown, silver shimmering desert: what grew on it needed no water, and what water fell on it soaked only deep enough to turn the topsoil into slime."

I also greatly appreciate the coinciding of the main character with the thylacine, and how the author leaves the tensions unresolved at the end. Both are individuals scraping by to survive, although their plights are not parallel in any easy, allegorical sense. When Satchel considers his future and the thylacine near the book's end, no neat parallels are made. Satchel creates a bond in his mind with the creature, just as we often do in reality, somewhat arbitrarily but with profound impact on us at the time and perhaps times forthcoming.
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