BOOK REVIEW: Twitcher (Cherise Saywell, Vintage)

TwitcherTwitcher is Cherise Saywell’s second novel after her impressive debut, Desert Fish. Sixteen-year-old Kenno lives with his parents and sister in a popular coastal town in Scotland. Real estate is booming as developers are buying up, subdividing and selling off land packages to tourists and wealthy townsfolk. But for Kenno and his family, life is tough as they struggle to make ends meet following a tragedy many years ago. Kenno works at the local supermarket and helps out at his father’s cleaning business, but when he learns of the family’s imminent eviction from their rental property, he comes up with a plan to help them out. Convinced his fail-safe scheme will not only bring financial security but also heal the rifts in the family, Kenno is soon drawn into a complicated web of half-truths, deception and misunderstandings. Saywell has captured beautifully the nuances of sibling relationships as well as the psychological complexity of adolescence, as Kenno negotiates his morality, loyalty and sexuality. The portrayal of a broken family still trying to function is extremely well done. This is intelligent, powerful fiction about family and the burden of guilt, loss and grief.

Sarina Gale is a freelance writer and bookseller at the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville. This review first appeared on the Books+Publishing website in February. View more pre-publication reviews here.