Black Sunday by Evan McHugh
Published by Omnibus Books
There's something so exciting and captivating with Australian history and Black Sunday had me enticed from the start. Set in Bondi, New South Wales in 1937-1938 we're introduced to the main protagonist David McCutcheon or Nipper to his family and friends who lives by the sea in Bondi.
The story is told in a diary format from Nipper's point of view, which come about after a school assignment. The diary - which starts as a point of contention between his teacher Mrs Kearsley - soon morphs into an outlet for him. Nipper lives with his Mum, Dad and younger sister Josie and enjoys life by the beach. He looks up to his grandpa - Grampa Jack, a war veteran who now works as a lifesaver (beach inspector).
"Nipper only wants to be one thing: a lifesaver. In his world they're larger than life, walking talking heroes. He's too young, but he starts to training in secret, challenging himself in the Bondi Surf." Throughout the story readers capture glimpses of what it was like to live in Australia at that time and about real Australian culture, with the story loosely based on real events and people at the time.
One fateful day at the beach - now known as Black Sunday - more than 200 men, women and children were swept out to sea which set into action a chain of events which saw lifesavers scramble to rescue as many people as they could. Nipper, watching the events unfold sees a person drowning that has gone unseen by the lifeguards. He decides he can't sit back and do nothing and utilises all his training to reach the person. In a mammoth struggle against the surf, Nipper manages to get the person to the beach - which actually turned out to be his former teacher Mrs Kearsley. Five people died that day, which is still the largest mass rescue on any Australian beach to this day.
Hailed a hero Nipper struggles with his newfound celebrity status and wonders if he even wants to be a lifeguard any more.
Black Sunday is an engaging story which details a part of Australian history I had not heard about before. It was charmingly told, with the reader drawn back in time in Australian history. A fantastic read for the young and old alike.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Evan McHugh
Title: Black Sunday
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Published: August 2016