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Past the Shallows

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,290 ratings  ·  273 reviews
Brothers Joe, Harry and Miles live with their father, an abalone fisherman, on the south-east coast of Tasmania. Everyday their dad battles the unpredictable ocean to make a living. He is a hard man, a bitter drinker who harbours a devastating secret that is destroying him. Unlike Joe, Harry and Miles are too young to leave home and so are forced to live under the dark clo ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Hachette Australia
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In and Out of Step by Christine M. KnightLife Song by Christine M. KnightThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakJasper Jones by Craig SilveyPlebs by Jim Goforth
Great Australian novels
9th out of 64 books — 62 voters
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Best Modern Australian Literature
71st out of 317 books — 373 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jenna  *Puddin Tame*
3.5 stars

Much thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for the advanced copy to review

As some adults later do, sometimes I wish that my parents would have done something different or I feel deprived in some way. That is, until I read books on children with abusive and bitter parents that could care less if they existed or not. Once I read them, I think, ‘you should be kissing your parents feet’ or ‘why am I such an ungrateful little runt?’

This is the case with Past the Shallows. This story
Diane S.
I was attracted to this book because of the setting, Tasmania, where my future daughter is at this time. The writing is very spare, but this is done to great effect. Three boys, trying to get over a horrible tragedy, two who are the mercy of a drunken, abusive father. The third, older had been building a boat for years and is now ready to get away.

Abalone fishing is a way of life there and the scenes on the water are harrowing. There is a wonderful old neighbor named George, who offers the boys
This debut novel by Favel Parrett has a lot of high recommendations attached to it, and it’s one I’ve wanted to read for awhile. I am so glad I did, it was a wonderful story, very sad, very confronting, but definitely worth reading.

Harry, Miles and Joe are 3 children who lost their mother to a dreadful car accident a few years earlier, and the two younger boys have since lived with their moody and unpredictable father on the remote south coast of Tasmania. Joe moved out at 13 after a bitter and
Ben Langdon
My favourite book of 2011, and after re-reading it this year it still holds up as one of my all-time favourite reads.

From the first page, Favel Parrett sets up a tragedy that cannot be out-run or ignored. There is a keen sense of something terrible just around the corner for the three brothers of this book.

Parrett captures the 1980s feel of Australia, from the show bags to the sense of everyday. There is also a very real sense of 'cold' which comes from the book being set in the inhospitable sou
Feb 24, 2012 Choco rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Choco by: Mel
Shelves: 0-loved, signed
Favel Parrett is an Australian author. With this piece of information you may develop a certain expectation for this book particularly if you have read any books written by Markus Zusak or Craig Silvey. I just have this need to let everyone know that Favel Parrett writes very differently from these authors at least on one point. That is, her prose is very very simple, to an extent that the authors mentioned above appear chatty in comparison (when they are near-perfect if you ask me). I don't wan ...more
I really wish I could give this book ten stars! Favel Parrett's debut novel is an exquisitely tender work...written with immense sensitivity and a beautiful turn of phrase.
The story is about three brothers Joe, Miles and Harry, who live in Tasmania with their often drunk and very bitter father, who is a fisherman. Set in 1983, the story is alternately narrated by fifteen year old Miles, and his much younger little brother,Harry. Miles' voice has a cynicism and weariness, young Harry's voice is
Greg Barron
From the first page I knew that Past the Shallows was something special. This is a writer that knows that clear and elegant writing does not require pyrotechnics. The story is moving and beautifully told. Past the Shallows deserves its place on the Miles Franklin short list and deserves to go all the way.
Favel Parrett’s debut novel is at times gut wrenching and shocking but I never went away from this book feeling like I had just read something interesting. It all felt way too familiar and that left me wanting to read something new and maybe unpredictable. I adored the writing style in Past the Shallows, it was almost poetic and it just pushed me through this book with such ease; even in the parts of the book I wasn’t enjoying.

Full review here;

My live tw
Sometimes cold and bleak, sometimes lyrical and uplifting, this tale of three young brothers is an impressive debut novel. Favel Parrett's imagery of the Tasmanian coastline is exquisite.
This book is a gem. It is raw, confronting, yet at the same time riveting and incredibly moving. At the heart of the story you have three brothers, who love in the rugged southern coast of Tasmania. They are subjected to the moods of their father, an abalone fisherman, who is a bitter and abusive man, especially to Harry, the youngest of the three. Joe, the eldest, emancipated himself after a violent encounter with their father, whereas Miles is trapped between his filial duties to help with the ...more
The term "Wintonesque" was woven more than once through the reviews at the front of this first published novel by Aussie female writer Favel Parrett. It's not just the parallels in writing style and content - the surf, the beautiful, redemptive surf - but it's also in the narrator's eye. There's a kindly benevolence in both writers, a certain compassion.

There's a childlikeness about compassion. But in an age of stiff egos and parasitic capitalism anything childlike can easily be mistaken for we
I started this novel because I’ve just been to Tasmania where it’s set but was immediately filled with a sense of bleakness and found it hard to come to the novel willingly. You know, from the very first pages, that what the characters face is grim and that there may be no redemption or hope. And I won’t spoil the plot to say more about this. What I want to stress about the novel is how good it is.
It’s a debut novel, it’s slight in length and sparingly told. It reminded me of the outset of Corma
Jennifer (JC-S)
Apr 02, 2012 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer (JC-S) by: Kristine
Shelves: librarybooks
‘Cuttlefish were easy but shark eggs were impossible’.

From the novel’s opening: ‘Out past the shallows, past the sandy-bottomed bays, comes the dark water – black and cold and roaring.’ this was a novel that held my attention to the end. Set in coastal southern Tasmania, it is a story about extremes – both in nature and within people.

There are three brothers: Joe, Miles and Harry. Miles and Harry live with their father while Joe lives with their grandfather. Their mother is dead and, as a conseq
This is a heartbreaking story of two young brothers, Miles and Harry who live alone with their widowed father in a run down cottage on the coast of Tasmania.

Their father is an abalone fisherman who drinks excessively, has a violent temper, and often physically abuses his sons. There is hardly any food but boys do the best they can with what they have with some help from people nearby.

Harry, the youngest of three brothers is left alone during the day while the middle brother Miles and his dad ar
Oh, how I loved this book. I saved it for a three hour plane trip...hoping that once we lifted up into the skies, that I would be lost in the pages. And that's precisely what happened. I inhaled the pages, I couldn't turn them fast enough.

Favel Parret's writing style is much like Tim Winton and Cormac McCarthy. Few words speak volumes. Wonderful words that create a novel of poetic paragraphs.

Three boys growing up in the shadow of their drinking, depressed father. Winter along the southern coas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maree Kimberley
Past the Shallows is a beautifully written, gripping and emotinally charged book. I read it within 2 days but a few times had to put it down so I could breathe because of its intensity.

The language is deceptively simple. Each sentence is pitched to hold just the right amount of tension. There is a stillness about this book that draws you in and binds you to it. Each character feels real, as though they're people you've seen or have known. When any of them are lost, you feel the hurt.

This is the
What a powerful story. For all it's relatively short length, this story about two young boys after a devastating family tragedy, packs a bleak and angsty punch. Extremely well written, I appreciated the way the back-story was revealed through memories, and found the prose poignant yet succinct. Unlike Tim Winton, who tends to leave me unimpressed, Ms Parrett's writing was beautiful, her descriptions eloquent and thought-provoking. The water was as much a character in this book as the people. One ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Jodie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Touching and haunting is this story set in the wilds of Tasmania. The chilling water that pushes up from the Antarctic into enormous swells slamming against the coast and at times the swell is so big it changes the shape of the coast with a single event. Much like the lives of Harry, Miles and Joe, three brothers from a broken home in the true definition of the word. Completely shattered by the loss of their mother in a car crash. We are never actually told the age of Harry but I guess that he i ...more
Yvonne Boag
Joe, Miles and Harry are brothers. Joe lives apart and is building a boat to take him as far away from his current life as possible. Miles spends every day helping his dad on the boat as he dives for abalone trapped in his existence without a way out. Harry is left home alone and often goes wandering. Their home life is horrible ruled by a father whose temper can be explosive. But there is always the ocean.

This book is written so simply, so beautiful that it feels more like watching an Australia
Three brothers living in Tasmania have to deal with a neglectful and abusive father. Much of the book centers around the ocean: the father and one brothers are fisherman; and two of the brothers are big into surfing.

A few pages into this novel I had to check the inside cover: the writing is very sparse and almost simple, and I thought perhaps the book is catergarized as Young Adult. It's not, but other than the mature themes and a few swear words it could be.

It's a quick and fast-paced read. I
Jacinta Fintan
Beautiful writing can't wait to see what favel writes next
Banafsheh Serov
At first glance, Parrett's writing appeared simplistic and better suited to YA. But as I settled into the rhythm and flow of the narrative, I discovered a deceptively simple, stripped back prose that carried a heavy punch that once delivered, left me breathless.

Set in the wild and beautiful south east coast of Tasmania, Past the Shallows is a story of family secrets and the intimate spaces of the human heart. It's the story of love, loss and the bond between brothers. Harry and Miles live with t
Bree T
Brothers Miles and Harry live with their widower father on the south east coast of Tasmania. Their father is an abalone fisherman, struggling to make ends meet staying within the legal fishing requirements. For the younger Harry, it’s days spent alone at home due to his seasickness preventing his father from putting him to work on the boat. For Miles, it’s long days out at sea working hard on the boat when he’d rather be surfing. Rather be anywhere else really.

Their older brother Joe escaped. He
This is the story of three brothers growing up on the rugged coast of Tasmania. They lost their mother in a car crash some years ago and are left to fend for themselves. They live with their father, a bitter, violent man, given to bursts of drunken rage and cruelty. Harry, the youngest boy, is vulnerable and naïve, with a terror of the vast, cruel ocean into which he knows he will eventually have to venture when he joins the family’s and the community’s traditional trade as abalone fishermen.

Brenna Hobson
1. I decided to read this book because I had requested some books from the library which I was waiting for, so I had nothing to read. A friend has given this book to my mum, so I picked it up and read it.

2. This book fits the category: a book with a male protagonist...and probably others, I will check the bingo board... [I'm not 100% that I will use this book for that category though, might use it for a different one].

3. The most interesting character was probably George, because everyone was ei
Past the Shallows is the story of two boys living on the Tasmanian coast trying to make the most of a situation that leaves them in the care of an abusive, alcoholic father after their mother's tragic death. A book that is both beautiful and devastating, Past the Shallows is expected to receive much hype in Australia over the next few months. Parrett has spectacularly captured the innocence of youth and has given the children truly believable voices, rather than the usual adult's perspective of ...more
Heidi (Yup. Still here.)
Ok I will start this book review with a warning. This is not a happy everything is sunshine and roses type book. Instead this book is both heartbreaking and realistic. Ms. Parrett is a wonderful writer who has created characters that are believable and a world you can imagine as true. I was rooting for all 3 of these brothers. I wanted them to get out to see the world and get far far away from the abusive roots. As I always say, what is it with these YA Aussie writers being able to tell such dee ...more
As a mother and someone who works in the child protection field, this was almost too much to bear.
A hopeless situation you know cannot end well, but still you hope.....
I wept and wept for those boys.
My heart aches because the unspeakable abuse they endure happens in real life more often than people realise.

I was grateful for the detailed surfing scenes - descriptive and poetic. And so they must be, as they describe the only moments the older boys experience any kind of freedom or joy. Yes, the T
Lisa B.
The three brothers, Joe, Miles and Harry living situation is dark and bleak. Their father is a bitter alcoholic who is fighting his own demons. Joe has already moved on, and Mile’s ability to protect young Harry is tenuous at best.

Ms. Parrett has provided us with a powerful debut. This story is sad, with brief offerings of happiness for these young boys. Her writing is picturesque yet simple. I was surprised at how quickly this novel progressed. I was so drawn into the story that I was at the en
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