Arafura by Susan Lattwein
Book Length: 230 pages
Time to Read: About a week of easy reading (less than an hour the first five days, then over an hour for the last two).
Romance, of the chick-lit self-discovery variety.
According to the Blurb on the Back:
‘Nobody said the build-up would be easy.
Sensible schoolteacher Kat is planning to marry when her long-term fiancé finds the time.
When the mysterious and damaged Adam arrives in town, Kat is jolted well out of her comfort zone. Despite her loyal intentions, a dead body and enough pre-monsoonal weather to strangle a Kat, she must wrestle with an instant attraction that is emotionally risky and absolutely, definitely fraught.
Arafura will appeal to female and male readers who enjoy quirky, witty suspense with dark edges.
Somehow I started reading this book without realising it was going to be a romance. With the mention of the dead body in the blurb, I latched onto that and expected something a bit more mystery-y (I know that’s not a word). Now I am not a big romance reader, though I do delve occasionally when I know what I’m getting into. So it wasn’t really until two-thirds of the way through the book that I could let go of this naive idea it would suddenly turn into a mystery and found myself really getting into the romance instead.
However I’d managed to mislead myself aside, I did connect with main character Kat from the get-go. I want to be a teacher someday, so I was really into Kat’s experiences in the classroom and how she connected with students. The book also didn’t shy away from the troubles that can crop up in the profession, so I loved all the little subplots about the students’ families and fundraising for the school. Kat’s family are a great bunch of characters too – especially Lily. Lily is adorably awesome.
There were some trippy things going on this story that are worth mentioning, as I was surprised the story went there, but not disappointed in any way. There was enough scepticism and empathy from Kat to make her reactions believable, so I was happy to go with it. I won’t spoil it by saying what ‘it’ was, exactly, but just be aware: occasional trippiness.
The setting for the book was really what made it for me. The author described Darwin and the ‘build-up’ (which is what the locals call the horrid humidity that occurs for days and days before a big cyclone, as the book explained) so well that I could clearly see and feel the environment surrounding the characters. I’ve never been to Darwin, but we get our fair share of hot summer storms in Queensland. I know how oppressive that humidity can be, and it was great to see the sheer awkwardness of trying to go about your day when you’re just pouring sweat and your mind has been shot by the heat. Those little details tend to be forgotten in favour of the plot, so it was nice to have the environment really support the plot in that way.
I really enjoyed this book, and hopefully the sequel will be out soon. Thumbs up.