Clancy of the Undertow reviewed by Annie

Clancy of the Undertow

Clancy of the title is fifteen-years-old and lives in a small country town. Her father works for the council and was on traffic duty after coming off compo for hurting his back at work. An accident happens on the road he is working on and he is held responsible for the death of two popular teenagers.

Clancy is not one of the ‘in’ kids. She goes to Nature Club – ‘the sole refuge of loners, nerds and general misfits’. She always remembered being ‘far more interested in the things I wasn’t supposed to be interested in’. She is the responsible one in the family because younger brother ‘Titch is too young and Angus is too unreliable’. Their mother does relief teaching.

The simmering tension escalates in the house, where everyone is ‘in a different room, as per usual’. The town starts to turn against her father and the whole family.

The book deals with teenaged issues of insecurity, body image, bullying, identity, race, sexuality, relationships with friends and family, wanting to get away from a country town, and the chance to wipe the slate clean.

Currie does very well at getting inside a teenaged girl’s head, presenting an authentic voice for Clancy. As he says in the acknowledgments at the end ‘if it helps just one person understand that being young is being confused, and that things do get better, and that none of us really know what we’re doing, then this whole process will have been worth it’. This is what good young adult fiction can do, and this one is just that.

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