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Ghost Child

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  424 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In 1982 Victorian police were called to a home on a housing estate an hour west of Melbourne. There, they found a five-year-old boy lying on the carpet. There were no obvious signs of trauma, but the child, Jacob, died the next day.

The story made the headlines and hundreds attended the funeral. Few people were surprised when the boy’s mother and her boyfriend went to priso
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Paperback, 363 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Bantam (first published 2009)
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Books Set in Australia
256th out of 427 books — 119 voters
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Best Modern Australian Literature
291st out of 327 books — 417 voters


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Community Reviews

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Suzanne
Caroline Overington's writing style is really easy to read. Again she's written chapter by chapter from different characters' perspectives. She nails the voices of various Aussies - the cop, the foster carer, the underprivileged and abused. I enjoyed the voice of the police officer, very salt of the earth, and also I think she captures the essence of the 1980's as well. It just all sounds real. The way she writes m, you seem to just fall into the peoples minds and I think it really works. I do r ...more
Rikke
It actually took me a while to figure out this book was fiction. Find it brilliant to write a book like this - I wish I had thought of it.

I really liked this book - the characters are so interesting and the whole story could very well have been a true crime.
I think the semi bad reviews on this side about the book is mainly by people who began reading it, expecting the crime and Jacob to be the main focus. The book is more about what happens to the remaining members of the family and why. I lov
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Chloe
Amazing story - I loved it. The different voices and different views are so well written. The author swaps seamlessly from voice to voice, like the harried social worker (DOCS), struggling to do the right thing while being tied by protocol, to a police officer who has seen it all before, to a foster mother who struggles with becoming too attached to her foster children, to reporters who see the shock factor in the story, to the {now grown up} children around whom the scandal is based. It's all s ...more
Helen McKenna
Back in 1982 a five year old boy dies after apparently being bashed by strangers on his way home from the shops. Immediate suspicion is cast on the story being told by his mother and her boyfriend and much speculation and scandal haunt the Barrett housing estate, west of Melbourne for years to come. Although the case is gradually forgotten, it is suddenly thrust back into the spotlight almost 30 years later when the sister of the victim faces court on an unrelated manner. Will the real story fin ...more
Bells
I found this moderately engaging but off putting at the same time. Clunky at times; awkward and a bit too much telling rather than showing. But I stuck with it and found elements quite beautiful and sad.
Deborah Biancotti
This is a smart, suspenseful story, plainly told.

When a young boy is found dead, his family is split up: the mother is sent to prison for murder & his three siblings wind up in various homes, private & state. For one of them, this is a kind of salvation, though he later takes to drinking. His sisters fare worse, falling into unhappy & early sexual relations with a variety of ill-suited suitors. I could draw conclusions about safety & hope & the tragedy that is family life fo
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Tara E
A fairly readable book with an interesting and engaging premise: murder mystery of a five year old not twenty years ago. Who was responsible, the mother, boyfriend or six year old sister?

It's written in the form where each chapter is from a different perspective, from the sister Lauren, to the police Sargent, the brother, sister, various foster parents, reporters, coroners etc this is interesting approach and allows the whole multi faceted view of a single event.

Having said that I have to say my
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Jess
I absolutely loved this book. This is the second time I have read it but I was still guessing throughout the whole book what happened to Jacob Cashman? Like other reviews I've read, I had to keep reminding myself that this book was fiction. Caroline Overington has done so well with this book that I'm looking forward to reading many more of her novels.
Karen Elizabeth
Enjoyed this book. A very simple clear writing style. The subject matter is a bit gruelling and for someone with no experience of dealing with these agencies, I found myself hoping this wasn't an accurate reflection. Coincidently mentioned it to a student at work who said she had been a ward of the state for some years and described very similar experiences to those outlined in the book. Poor girl. Also interesting to get a feel for what life in Australia was like - then and now. Not highbrow, b ...more
Belle
I literally couldn't put it down. I was tempted a few times to read the last page, because I was dying to know what really went down that caused the boy to die, but I'm so glad I didn't. The twists and turns and the varying points of view of the same event - and it's after-effects - were completely compelling. Overington does a remarkable job of creating a unique voice for each character and crafting a suspenseful and intriguing plot. I'd definitely recommend it if you love a good mystery and a ...more
Mamata Titus
One of the most incredible aspects of Ghost Child is that you often forget that this is fiction, it isn't a biographical account of a real crime. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that it is reflective of a lot of real crimes.

I loved Ghost Child. I could not put it down. Not only because I had to find out exactly what happened to Lauren's little brother, but because the book was so insightful and seemingly well researched. There are so many voices throughout the novel. The inspector who hand
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Kath
Disappointing read as I loved her second book. Interesting subject matter and plot, but it took too long to get to the point and then it was rushed. Spent far to much time devoted to irrelevant details of minor characters lives.
Ms_MotorbikeNut
You could be forgiven for thinking this was a non fiction book instead of a fiction the way it's told. Through out the book the chapters are all told by different charcters in the book. It has a very suprising ending.
Faye
Great story, I had the who dunnit all wrong - which I think I am really good at - so this really tricked me. Love this author. A must read.
Sara
This author continues to blow me away the story line was fantastic and so were the characters, well worth reading :)
Jody - A Spoonful of Happy Endings
Review first posted on my blog: http://spoonfulofhappyendings.blogspo...

In 1982, 5-year-old Jacob Cashman is sent to the store together with his younger brother Harley to buy cigarettes for his mother. What happened after that is unclear, but as soon as the emergency services arrive at the Cashman residence a few hours later, Jacob is dead. His mother says Jacob and his brother were attacked by strangers on their way back home, but eventually Jacob's mother and her boyfriend are the ones who end
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Bree T
In November 1982, police are called to a residence in an estate an hour out of Melbourne where there are reports of a small child having been assaulted. The story coming from the mother is that she sent 5 year old Jake Cashman and his brother, 3 year old Harley, to the shops to buy cigarettes. They were approached by a stranger who asked them for change, and when they refused, he assaulted Jake, knocking him to the ground and kicking him. Harley was able to escape, run home and raise the alarm.

T
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Sallyann Van leeuwen
Police are called to a housing commission house in an estate to find a young boy, unconscious but with no obvious signs of trauma. The single mum and her boyfriend claim that he was attacked on his way home from the shops. When 5 year old Jacob dies, his mum and her partner are sentenced to 10 years jail.

The story, told from many perspectives, details the events of the case and follows the other children, and their attempt to acclimate to independent living, following their stints in foster hom
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Jennifer
I guess I can't keep giving Caroline Overington 5 stars for all of her books, but Ghost Child was another couldn't put down read!! The books do always centre around family law issues which I'm gathering was Caroline's area of writing as a journalist?

Each of her books does have a different twist to the circumstance for each family and/or child, and the other people involved in the situation whether they be the local community, social workers, police, reporters, legal representatives, or other ch
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Karen Tucker
This book is very hard to read in places due to the emotional trauma that the children went through and the ending was pretty shocking. I felt so sorry for the children all the way through and my heart went out to them. I really liked this book thou, and I liked the fact each chapter was written from a different persons perspective.
Jody
Once again Caroline Overington has written a great book. The way the each person had a chance to tell their story, really added to enjoyment of the book. One more book to go and I've read them all; can't wait.
Renita D'Silva
Beautifully written, heart breaking. Loved it.
Rachel
Some great twists . As always hard to put down .
Angela H
great read. Easy to read. Read it in a few days.
Prue
Had to keep reading to find out what really happened. Good from different perspectives of characters.
Cookie1
This was a book club book.
It was written from the point of view of each of the main characters in the book. It is based on the death, or was it murder of a 5 year old, Jake. Who did it? He has 2 sisters and a brother and they tell their side of the story, as does the policeman who investigated it. Initially I found this difficult to follow, but it became easier as the story progressed.
The story shows us the reality of fostering children too, and the different types of people who foster.
Cate Martin
A really interesting read
Jennifer
Yeah, this sounded like an interesting storyline, but was killed by dreadful writing, as far as I am concerned. The writing is so painfully boring to read that I didn't have the patience. The characters take forever to tell the story and are too dreary to bother with. This is self conscious and pompous and pedestrian and pretentious all at the same time. An example of how dreadful writing can kill a good idea, at best.
Bettina
Really enjoyed this book, and hard to believe that it's fiction. The story just felt so real. Liked how the author gave the perspective of the major characters and how Jacob's death effected them. Thought the book would focus on Jacob a bit more specifically, but I still really enjoyed this book. Caroline Overington makes us think about issues that most of us have never had to face before. Great read.
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Caroline Overington is an Australian author and journalist.

She has worked for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is is currently a staff writer for The Weekend Australian Magazine.

Caroline is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism. She won her first Walkley for a series of articles about a literary fraud, and her second for a series about the AWB oil for food
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“I said to the social worker "Would you stop me from having a child of my own?" Of course, they wouldn't have been able to do that. I could well have had a child of my own, and there would be nothing they could have done about that. Anybody can have their own child. Doesn't matter if they are drug abusers or prostitutes or paedophiles, but when you want to adopt they put you through hoops, like infertility makes you less capable of being a parent.” 6 likes
“Obviously, children die every day, and it is surely conceivable to every one of us that one of our children will pre-decease us. Nevertheless, it is the thing we most fear. It is the thing we in modern medicine devote our greatest energy toward preventing. In modern times, it still seems to most of us that the death of a child is a gross violation of the pact we have with our God. He gives us children. We should, therefore, be allowed to raise them. That is the natural order of the world.” 3 likes
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