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Review - When the Night Comes

By Justwrite @must_write

Review - When the Night ComesI received an electronic review copy of When the Night Comes many months ago. Again, due to some personal issues, I have taken far too long to post my review, but here it is at last. Apologies to the Author and Publisher.

This is a story of friendship between a man and a girl. Bo is a cook on a ship called the 'Nella Dan' that travels between Tasmania and Antarctica, delivering supplies and crew to work at the station there. Isla and her brother have moved from the mainland to Tasmania with their mother, for a 'better' life.  It’s obvious there is a romantic relationship between Isla’s mother and Bo, but the real story focuses on the connection between Bo and Isla. Bo expands Isla’s life. Her view of the world is broadened simply by his presence, the stories he shares with her of his life and travels. He brings color into an otherwise monotone world. It’s an easy intimacy that grows between them; the silences, the acceptance, a familiarity that would be expected between family members, or people who had known each other a very long time. 

The actual timeline of the story is brief - two summers. Not much appears to happen, yet for these two characters everything changes. Isla grows into adolescence - beginning grade 6 at the start of the book and finishing her first year at Secondary School by the end. This is a time of great change for someone of Isla’s age, and the influence of a man like Bo on her life, in the absence of a father, is profound. As the story ends Isla has been 'called by the sea', just as Bo was, just as his father was before him. The world has suddenly become large for Isla, and filled with possibilities.
When the Night Comes is not a plot-driven story. If you are looking for action and drama, then perhaps this book is not for you? The tension is understated. Emotion is the main focus. It is the story of a man and the effect he has on a young girl at her most impressionable. Parrett didn’t clutter her story with unnecessary characters; indeed, most of the secondary characters hover on the periphery. The characters she does focus on, however, are no cardboard cutouts. They are living, breathing, feeling human beings laid out on the page in a way that reminds the reader that the smallest happening can sometimes have the largest impact. 
The way the writer draws you in is so subtle that you don’t even notice it. I cared about these characters. I wanted them to be together, for Isla and her brother to have this father-figure in their lives, and yet the underlying sadness, the restlessness of the adults was such that I was not surprised at the ending. The writing is lyrical, soulful, real. The characters were filled with heart. Parett’s storytelling is gentle, yet masterful, with its ability to draw you in so deeply with very little going on.
It is said that everyone who enters your life is either there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Bo opened up the world for Isla. He helped her to dream big dreams and to be unafraid of following them. Isla helped Bo realize that he wanted to have a family of his own and to raise them where he was raised, share the traditions and experiences his father shared with him. The lives of these two characters were made better by simply knowing one another.

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