Hannah Bird has just arrived in Thailand. Disoriented and out of her depth, she meets Deven, a fierce and gutsy Australian expat who sweeps her into thrilling adventures rescuing elephants.
As they head deeper and deeper into the fraught world of elephant tourism, their lives become tangled in ways Hannah never imagined. But how far will they go to save a life?
I’m always excited to see a new release from a local Canberra author, and was super keen to get stuck into Irma Gold’s debut adult novel, The Breaking.
From the moment I picked this one up I was completely drawn into Hannah’s story and absolutely flew through it.
The writing has a really vivid and dynamic feel – I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I could feel the action in the words and felt like I was part of it all the way through. The perspective puts the reader firmly in Hannah’s shoes in a way that is perfect for building intimacy. We get to see Thailand through her eyes, and also experience all the concerns and insecurities she has about her place in the world, and her developing relationship with Deven.
Another reason I feel like the first person perspective worked really well was that the reader has their eyes opened to the issues around elephant tourism at the same time as Hannah does. I thought Gold did a brilliant job of conveying the issues around this without feeling preachy, and I really appreciated that although there were some scenes that were difficult to read, descriptions of what the animals are put through never felt gratuitous. (On that note, a content warning: readers should watch out for descriptions of animal cruelty).
I think my favourite thing about The Breaking was seeing the relationship between Hannah and Deven developing. I liked the way they seemed to be drawn to each other but each pushed the other away at times. I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I really wanted to mention how well I think this was written.
If you’re after a fun and moving story that will leave you thinking long after the last page I’d encourage you to take Hannah’s hand and let her and Deven show you around Thailand!
The Breaking by Irma Gold
Out now from Midnight Sun Publishing (RRP: $29.99)
Source: I received a free copy from Midnight Sun Publishing for review (thank you!)
Category: Contemporary fiction
Format: Paperback, 265 pages