Review: The Boy Under The Table by Nicole Trope

 

Title: The Boy Under The Table

Author: Nicole Trope

Published: Allen & Unwin June 2012

Synopsis: Tina is a young woman hiding from her grief on the streets of the Cross. On a cold night in the middle of winter she breaks all her own rules when she agrees to go home with a customer. What she finds in his house will change her life forever. Across the country Sarah and Doug are trapped in limbo, struggling to accept the loss that now governs their lives. Pete is the local policeman who feels like he is watching the slow death of his own family. Every day brings a fresh hell for each of them. Read an Extract

Status: Read on May 29, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

This is a novel that is both utterly shocking and unbearably moving which makes for a compelling tale. Told primarily from the alternating points of view of Tina, Sarah, Doug and Pete, a moment of inattention is the catalyst for tragedy in The Boy Under the Table.
With stark realism, The Boy Under The Table relates a horrific reality for two lost children. Tina ended up on the streets of King Cross at barely fifteen when she left home to escape the religious zealotry of her mother and stepfather, and her grief at losing her younger brother, Tim. She shares a squat with a group of young boys, showers at a local gym and prostitutes herself, trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and despair. On a cold winter’s night she accepts a client’s offer to go home with him and discovers his horrifying secret, a malnourished and filthy child huddled under the man’s kitchen table, tethered by ropes around his ankle and neck.
While Tina’s family is indifferent to her circumstances, Doug and Sarah can only imagine how their son may be suffering. When eight year old Lachlan disappeared from the Sydney Royal Easter Show, his parents were distraught. They each blamed themselves, and the other, existing in limbo, desperately hoping for news. As time dragged on with no clue as to his whereabouts, they were forced to return to their farm at Cootamundra without their precious son where Sarah sunk into depression while Doug tries simply hold everything together for the sake of their daughter, Sammy.
The Boy Under the Table is a confronting read, highlighting the vulnerability of our children. As a mother I can’t imagine the heartbreak of a missing child, I once lost sight of my youngest son for just a few minutes at a local fair when he was three and I well remember the suffocating panic and terror. For Doug and Sarah there is no relief from the worry and fear, in just seconds, in a situation most parents would not think twice about, these good parents have found themselves in a living hell. In contrast the parents of Tina, and the other ‘lost’ children of the Cross, are contemptible human beings who for one reason or another have practically thrown their children away. It’s a heartbreaking reality that society too often fails to care for it’s most vulnerable children and The Boy Under the Table is a stark reminder of that.
Despite the emotive issues, the author deftly avoids sentimentality with a spare writing style, her characters don’t wring their hands and wail uselessly, they simply put one foot in front of the other intent on surviving the next minute, the next hour, the next day. It does mean that the story lacks some subtlety but it’s brutal realism is powerfully affecting. The lives of Tina and Lockie collide in the most shocking of moments. Trope spares us nothing, she doesn’t pretend Tina is anything other that what she is which is, both a jaded street whore and a young teenage girl who still dreams of possibilities and Lockie will never be the same carefree and innocent child he was on the day before he disappeared. The bond that forms between these two children is incredibly touching in part because there is no pretense just simple, desperate need.
I found The Boy Under the Table impossible to put down once I had started, the pace is unrelenting and the story is utterly engrossing. The conclusion is tinged with both hope and sadness and I held my children a little tighter and a lot longer when I had finished. The Boy Under The Table is a confronting story, but one that is well worth reading.

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About the Author

Nicole Trope is a former high school teacher with a Masters Degree in Children’s Literature. In 2005 she was one of the winners of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. In 2009 her young adult novel titled I Ran Away First was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize.

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30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    May 31, 2012 @ 14:46:56

    This sounds to be totally absorbing, and parents particularly would strongly empathise with the feelings the plot engages. Not for the faint-hearted, but it certainly promises to be a gripping tale.

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  2. Michelle @ B&L (@mic_loves_lace)
    May 31, 2012 @ 16:15:44

    Great review Shelley, this book sounds extremely engrossing and equally distressing.
    Not to mention one that will stay with you long term.

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  3. seventhvoice
    May 31, 2012 @ 16:32:51

    Love your reviews…. please keep them coming….

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  4. Nicole Trope
    May 31, 2012 @ 19:01:21

    Thank you so much for the lovely review and I want all the mothers out there to know that as a mother myself- I found this an incredibly difficult book to write. I put it off for a long time but finally had to give into a story that would not let go.

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  5. notesoflifeuk
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 06:15:52

    A brilliant review! I haven’t heard of this one before, but this certainly sounds like it’s one worth reading.

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  6. Dalene
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 10:25:10

    Sometimes I am in the mood for such a read as this!! Will add to my list for those times. Thanks for a great review :)

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  7. Amritorupa Kanjilal
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 00:29:33

    Hi Shelly,
    Just reading your description of the book was enough to put me in a cold sweat. i cannot imagine how frightening it must be to live your life, with the knowledge that your child might be alive somewhere, being tortured. :(
    I’m going to stay away from this book till I’m actually brave enough to read it.

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  8. Teddyree
    Jun 04, 2012 @ 15:54:39

    Shelleyrae I knew this one was going to be confronting but the emotion in your beautifully written review convinces me that this is one I want to read!

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  9. Trackback: AWW feature: Q&A with Nicole Trope « book'd out
  10. Rae Ross
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 03:07:49

    Great Read! Waiting for the next book by Nicole Trope.
    This book is so exciting could not put it down.
    Thanks Nicole

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  11. Edwin Jacobson
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 03:14:02

    I am not sentimental but this book is so gripping that I actually cried.
    Nicole Trope is one of the greatest authors I have ever read.

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  12. Cathy Rollins
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 03:25:32

    I agree with Edwin. This book is dramatic and very well written.

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  13. Louise
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:48:19

    This book grabs you from the first page and takes you on an incredible journey.I could not put it down

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  14. Louise
    Jun 30, 2012 @ 14:25:16

    Brilliant book grabs you from the first page

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  15. Zoe
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:24:23

    I am a mum too and I found the story confronting but this book is just too good to pass up. Engrossing, vivid, authentic characters that capture you from the first page. The only problem is the late nights because once you start you can’t stop reading it.

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  16. Misty
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 19:48:06

    This book was too good not to read. It takes your emotions to every part of the spectrum. It is dealt with in such a raw, pithy and yet tender way, that we see every side of human nature and are equally left with hope.. An absolute must read.

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  17. Marilyn Rabinowitz
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 16:52:45

    I started reading this after lunch and had finished it by bed-time. Could not stop thinking about that little Daniel Morcombe (spelling?) who was recently buried after being missing for so many years. I will look very differently at young adults/kids in the Cross area now and wonder what happened to bring them there. So sad because it could easily happen to any one of us. What a wonderful writing style Nicole. Thank you.

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  18. Trackback: 2012 AWW Challenge Wrap-up: Contemporary Fiction « Australian Women Writers Challenge
  19. Vikki Wensley
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 16:36:03

    I have just purchased your book (1 hour ago) so haven’t had time to read it but I was very disappointed to see your dedication was to your ‘mom’. Why was it spelt like this? Looking forward to reading this, however. Thanks

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  20. Trackback: Review: Three Hours Late by Nicole Trope | book'd out
  21. Trackback: Review: The Secrets in Silence by Nicole Trope | book'd out

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