From young adult author, Nikki Buick, comes Sandy Feet, a raw and engaging coming-of-age story about the highs and lows of adolescence as well as the consequences of family tragedy.
Teenager, Hunter did not vote for the family road trip. He can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in the car with his mum, his stepdad, his little sister and his new half brother.
His Mum thinks it will bring them closer together, but when Hunter discovers that he has been deceived about what really happened to his real Dad, the opposite happens.
Although things come to a head and the truth spills out, it’s what needs to happen before family relationships can be healed and they can move on from Hunter’s horrific car accident and his mother’s attempt at taking her own life.
He is a complex and well rounded character with authentic teen traits and flaws.
The road trip takes the reader up through northern Queensland, allowing them to experience a beautiful but dangerous part of the world.
The scenery is beautifully described and I love author Nikki Buick’s laconic humour.
“I didn’t like the ocean. It was always too cold, even in summer. It fizzed up my nose like a soluble aspirin and it dumped me like a sumo-wrestling girlfriend”.
On the road trip, Hunter learns truths not just about his family, but about himself.
A teenager’s difficulty in accepting his blended family is handled with sensitivity and realism. Hunter isn’t a bad guy, he just doesn’t see why he should accept his mother’s new husband as his Dad. Hunter already has a Dad – it’s just that he’s not allowed to see him.
For Nikki Buick, the themes of blended families, absent fathers, mental illness, disability and self-discovery came from her years of study and work in the area of Family Dispute Resolution, listening to and counselling young people through issues they struggled to navigate on their own.
As the mother of three teenage sons (and two younger ones), Nikki naturally drew on their collective souls in writing Sandy Feet to breathe life into the character of Hunter. ‘I sat down and wrote the story of an angst ridden teenager, dragged along on a family adventure that held no interest whatsoever for him. My sixteen-year-old son Harry could well relate to such a tale and still has nightmares!’ she comments.
Nikki now feels like Hunter has become her honorary, make-believe son and she loves him almost as much as the others!
This genuine connection to her main character comes through in Nikki’s writing, and that’s what makes Hunter’s voice so strong and authentic.
Sandy Feet is a coming of age story full of hope, and topics for interesting discussion in the classroom. It is published by UQP.