“kinship? Something had happened between her and this young man something bewildering and frightening and good, all at the same time.” This quote is near the end of this interesting novel, but there are many highways and byways to traverse before you arrive at this rather startling point.
Jack and Ben are born into very different households, just a few years apart in age, but light years away from each other in opportunity in life. The work is set in New Zealand, and shows a great deal of research into background, particularly into the prison system.
Indeed, Fiona Sussman, who moved from South Africa to New Zealand, acknowledges at the end of the book the splendid help given to her in this particular area. Ben, at just sixteen, is imprisoned for thirteen years, and shows no signs of remorse or redemption. But then he didn’t reckon on the influence of Jack’s bereaved and damaged mother, Carla and neither would most readers.
Through her eyes, and her vicissitudes the horror of the crimes become painfully clear, but the promise she sees in Ben also becomes wonderfully clear. Ben, of course, cannot see this, and even if he could, there would be no way he would admit such a possibility. “Bewildering” and “frightening” are certainly the words to describe the progression in their often fractured relationship. THE LAST TIME
WE SPOKE is a powerful book about redemption, juxtaposed with the dark side of modern life, with which we are all becoming shockingly familiar.
As a debut novelist, Fiona Sussman is well worth watching.
THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE
by FIONA SUSSMAN
PUBLISHED by FABER FACTORY PLUS for a recommended $29.99