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Little Gods

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  633 ratings  ·  124 reviews

The setting is the Mallee, wide flat scrubland in north-western Victoria, country where men are bred quiet, women stoic and the gothic is never far away. Olive Lovelock has just turned twelve. She is smart, fanciful and brave and on the cusp of something darker than the small world she has known her entire life.

When she learns that she
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2018 by Allen & Unwin (first published March 2018)
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Amy Spoilers, but I really thought the way everyone kept telling Olive pointedly that no-one was to blame and she ended up not wanting to know the answer …moreSpoilers, but I really thought the way everyone kept telling Olive pointedly that no-one was to blame and she ended up not wanting to know the answer showed that, whatever actually happened, Olive was the one who did it. (less)

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Average rating 3.30  · 
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Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-books
I am very happy giving Little Gods four stars for the beautiful way the author writes about growing up in Australia in simpler times, before the advent of iPads, computers and smartphones. Olive and her friends enjoy a level of freedom unknown by today's children but which I remember from my own childhood.

I enjoyed the story of Olive's growing up very much although I did not much like Olive herself. When Peter tells her she never listens I can agree with him totally and why he kept coming back f
Veronica ⭐️
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Little Gods is a story of a regular family. Three sisters so very different, yet bonded by blood. Thistle- the philosopher, she believes in speaking up and speaking the truth. Audra- quiet, invisible, almost ghost like very rarely seen or heard. Rue- a catastrophizing mother who believes children should be protected from life and kept away from harsh realities. They are close but also annoy each other deeply. They don’t have deep and meaningful conversations. They bottle up their emotions just l ...more
Olive was an only child, twelve years old, who didn’t get on with the other children at school – even the teachers for that matter. Her only friend was Peter; they would ride their bikes to the local pool to swim after school. Olive was keen to learn and listened to the adults wherever and whenever she could. And some of the things she overheard were things she shouldn’t have learned. The whisper of a sister would start Olive on a quest to find answers to which no one would respond…

The family’s
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
A young girl searching to uncover buried secrets that her close extended family seem intent to keep from Olive. The more these adults refuse to shed light on what happened to Olive’s dead sister the more she wants answers, so much of this book is Olive trying to dig around to seek pieces of the puzzle, Olive becomes fixated on getting some answers delving into some dark waters.

The setting sums up small town summers in Australia where imaginations can run wild this being the case for Olive and he
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being an only child, Olive Lovelock didn't get along with other children at school and she didn't much care for the teachers either. Olive had just one friend, Peter. After school they would hang out together riding their bicycles to the local swimming pool. Olive believed listening to other people talk was a way of learning things, but there are some things you shouldn't listen to as Olive soon found out.

When Olive finds out about something that went on in her family she's not convinced about
Olive Lovelock, a girl on the cusp of puberty finds out she had a baby sister, Aster who died. None of the adults will talk about it, except her Aunt Thistle who is slightly eccentric. Unable to remember Aster or how she died, Olive becomes convinced that someone killed her and she has to be the one to investigate and find the truth.

Although for the most part the book was beautifully written, it took me a little while to engage with it become absorbed. Olive is an unpopular tomboy of a child, b
Theresa Smith
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2018
There is definitely shades of ‘the great Australian novel’ within this latest offering by Jenny Ackland, and while I’m usually reluctant to draw comparisons between stories, I felt a certain Stand By Me vibe about Little Gods, that whole ‘the summer before everything changed’ sort of feeling. I really think this is a story that will play out well on the big screen, it has all the qualities essential for a timeless Aussie movie. Fingers crossed for Jenny!

In Olive, Jenny has created one tough lit
I am always grateful to receive an advance copy, or in this case an uncorrected proof, of a novel from the publisher in return for an honest review. So thank you to Allen & Unwin for my copy, although I regret that my review will not be very favourable.

I started this book several weeks ago, but put it aside after about 80 pages because I was not enthused. I took the book away on holidays, thinking that a leisurely environment might afford me a better entry to the story. I’ll confess that I only
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“It was true what Thistle always said, that trouble is around a person like air is, and you breathe it in. She made sure to sleep with her jaw clenched and woke in the mornings, wrenched out of her sleep to lie in bed, heart throbbing with a dream-fear so thick and real it was as if she might make everything come true just by imagining it.”

Little Gods is the second novel by Australian teacher and author, Jenny Ackland. Olive Lovelock has just turned twelve and is looking forward to the summer br
Robert Lukins
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, character-driven storytelling. Just loved it. Get amongst it.
Incredibly beautiful, breathtaking novel that centers around an adorable little girl who left her mark on me.

Little Gods is set in the late 70’s/early 80’s, in the country town of Mallee, Victoria. The heart of the story is 12 year old Olive Lovelock with a wilfully strong personality, and an inquisitive mind. She has a bad habit of ears dropping into adult conversations - but can miss interpret what they say or do - and loves digging around places where she not allowed to be. If you’re an adul
Clare Snow
"As a child, trapped in the savage act of growing up, Olive had sensed she was at the middle of something."

Olive's story of finding who she is at twelve, as her childhood slips away, broke me over and over.

A baby's death reverberates down the years, and is interwoven with the complexities of the Lovelock family; small town gossip and innuendo; the hardship of drought for the farmers of the Mallee; and the consequences of forced removal of babies from unwed mothers for adoption to "good" families
Kali Napier
Feb 12, 2018 added it
Shelves: aww2018
Little Gods is the second novel from Jenny Ackland, and is quite different in form and setting to her The Secret Son. In this novel, 12-y.o. Olive is the protagonist, as she spends a summer at the family's farm, catching snippets of adult conversations ranging from the prosaic and mundane, to mysterious allusions to a 'sister'. When she discovers photos of a red-headed child, Olive becomes determined to find out what happened to her. Olive reminded me of Harriet the Spy, cruising the streets on ...more
I felt this was a book of finely crafter words looking for a story.
The central character, Olive, is 12 years old and is fascinated about saving roadkill, how sex works, a weird family only less weird than her own and the rumour that she once had a sister.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: australian
This was a long hard slog and I wish I'd read more reviews before I bothered to request it from the library. Definitely this one is not my cuppa tea. It's a pity, because the premise was interesting, I love a country Victorian setting, and I really want to support Aussie authors.
Lucy Treloar
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book for its great big heart, and for wonderful Olive, and for its rich, rich atmosphere.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-top-five
This book took a while to get going, but once it did, it was great. I found it to be a very different book to The Secret Son, and I mean that as a good thing. I found aspects of that book pretty good and other aspects underwhelming. But this book was one of those that was a slow burn.

It started off a bit iffy, and it seemed as if the different threads linking the characters was going to be difficult to discern, even down to figuring out who Olive's father was. However, I think that was a reflect
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I struggled with this novel. According to GR, I started reading at the end of April. I think I tried for 2 days' commuting's worth (approx 3.5 hours) and gave up. Usually, I would've nearly finished a novel but I read only about 1/3 of this novel. This was months ago so all I vaguely remember is the jumbled confusion on who's who. The novel is told from solely from Olive's perspective and most of the time, she refers to her mother by her name (the same applies to her aunts & uncles). There were ...more
Cass Moriarty
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Little Gods (Allen & Unwin Books 2018) by Jenny Ackland has been on my TBR pile for a while now but was speedily moved up when it was recently longlisted for the Stella Prize. Reminiscent of Sofie Laguna’s The Choke, Little Gods features the distinct and endearing voice of Olive Lovelock, 12 years old, who is growing up in the flat scrubland country of north-western Victoria. She is an only child but spends much of her time with her aunt and uncle and her three cousins, and with her half-tame, h ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reviews
Even at twelve Olive had known that others thought her family odd. Those Lovelocks, people would say, their looks loaded with meaning. They said it in the butcher, the supermarket and the haberdashery. They said it in the milk bar and in the playground at school.

So begins Jenny Ackland’s Little Gods, an evocative coming of age story set in Victoria’s mallee region during the 1980s.

Told in the third person but largely from Olive’s perspective, we are introduced to that “odd” family: Audra and Ru
Mar 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books, 2019
The premise of a child who after learning she once had a baby sister, becomes convinced that she was murdered and seeks to find out who did it, sounded so promising, but unfortunately it did not deliver. So much of the momentum of the story relied on minute details that were interspersed throughout the often-times dense and pedantic description. I was forced to reread lines again and again, in fear that I had missed something significant. This is not to say the writing was necessarily bad, th
Mar 12, 2018 marked it as to-read
Received an ARC edition courtesy of Allen and Unwin.
Michael Livingston
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ackland has created a wonderful set of characters - Olive and Thistle in particular - and set them in a rural Victorian 1970s that felt deeply familiar. The plot didn't always feel entirely believable to me, but the unfurling of family secrets was mostly well handled. Definitely worth a read!
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
DNF after 100 pages. To get this far without feeling anything for the characters, having any semblance of plot... no, I’m done. Loved the idea behind this one but was incredibly disappointed with the execution.
Christy Collins
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rich with complex characters and lavish details which constantly threw me back (in a good way) to ‘the farm’ in my own childhood.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize.
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie-author
It took me a while to fully appreciate the author's style of writing but once I did, I really enjoyed reading this book. A lot of that enjoyment I guess, was because it reminded me so much of my own lazy Summer days, growing up in a small town in country Victoria. Riding my bike to the shop for a Razz or Glug and days spent soaking up the sun at the local pool. I would have loved to have a little more clarity regarding the relationship between the sisters. The author hinted at events, at times I ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, novels
Olive is a girl in between childhood and adulthood and is coming to discover the complexities and secrets inherent in an adults life.

She was a great character. As were the others around her, from cousins to friends to the adults. Each one of hem felt very real.

I also loved and related to the whole aspect of growing up in Australia. As well as the references to Aussie things like Vegemite and stuff. Just something I found nice since I rarely read any Australian books.

The story itself started slow
Rebecca Altmann
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-challenge
I recommend lining up a friend to read this at the same time as you as you are likely to want to talk it over - lucky for me I had someone to have an hour-long conversation with - about plot, character, setting - everything really.
For me this was very Australian - the descriptions of the bike rides and olympic pool and silos put me right back to my childhood. However, the setting could just as well be Texas or a similar dry American state, as the Australian references are fairly subtle.
In fact,
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, a child's' view, growing up in a country town and spending lots of time on the farm. The freedom of childhood, climbing trees, making plans to search for meaning and answers to life is definitely explored here. And simply pages of just hanging out with friends after school, going on bike rides or swims at the local pool. Some of the adventures are believable others are a bit far fetched, or is it realistic given the circumstances? This does make the reader reflect on ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This was the first time in many years that I have dabbled in Australian fiction, and I found it to be a light, refreshing read, even though it could get dark in places. I appreciated the depth of the adult side characters - they each had a hidden narrative and were deeply flawed. This was gorgeously conveyed through little snippets of observation, as our young narrator had not yet developed the insight to piece them together.

However, I found it difficult to follow the narrative voice. Perhaps th
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“To stand by and watch her cool interactions with others - even adults - was thrilling for a boy like Peter. He was someone who listened to the grown-ups and did what they told him. He'd realised the adult way was not a choice but a rule until you were a grown-up yourself and got your own turn. But Olive May Lovelock, she was taking her turn now.” 2 likes
“As the years started to pull behind her like toffee, her mind always managed to find itself at her uncle and aunt's farm. And whenever she returned to those dark sticky years, it was still surprising how it all unravelled so quickly, the summer she turned twelve.” 1 likes
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