The Middle of Nowhere, published in October 2013, is a fascinating book written by the fabulous author, Geraldine McCaughrean who has written many novels and short story collections, for all ages, including the captivating sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Peter Pan in Scarlet.
The Middle of Nowhere stars young Comity Pinny. Her and her mother and father live in an isolated village in the Australian outback, as her father works the telegraph line. After her mother’s tragic death her father retreats into the confines of his job. Comity struggles with the burden of now looking after her father and dealing with her own grief. Her father is sent a new assistant telegraph officer and chaos reigns from that day forth. Comity and Fred, a local Aboriginal boy whom Comity befriends, watch the small village fall into a downward spiral of drunkenness and racism.
McCaughreans novel is written quite childishly and yet that only serves to bring out the depth of the underlying themes. Written from the perspective of Comity, McCaughrean lays bare the horrific way in which Aboriginals were treated by early settlers very honestly, and with all the bluntness but also confusion that Comity herself has.
Comity’s name means courtesy and considerate behaviour towards others, it also means an association of nations for their mutual benefit. I think this book is about Comity realising that even she, a young girl, can bring peace between nations.