Ghost River by Tony Birch – Book Review


It’s the late 60s, working class Collingwood in Melbourne. Ren’s life is changed when he becomes mates with Sonny next door – a rough kid with a drunk, violent dad and no fear. Ren and Sonny start hanging out at the river, a dangerous, fast place that Ren has been told to avoid. There they have adventures, they jump into the water from heights and they befriend a group of vagrants who tell them stories. But the joy of freedom and youth cannot remain the same.

The writing captures a world now gone with nostalgia, but also with honesty. The kids have the freedom to escape and be free when they are at the river, but they also have adults who bully both verbally and physically. Ren and Sonny are both innocent and world-weary, with much in their lives that they are trying to figure out without getting in to too deep. It’s a beautiful read, and I highly recommend it.

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