Juno & Hannah by Beryl Fletcher (Spinifex Press, $25)
Review by Sienna Latham
The New Zealand bush haunts every page of Beryl Fletcher’s compelling new novella. Set in 1920, Juno & Hannah follows two sisters as they flee the isolated Waikato community of religious fundamentalists who raised them. They soon find themselves in strange — and strangely familiar — territory.
Fourteen-year-old Juno, the younger of the two girls, challenges the rigid structure of life in the Christian settlement simply by existing. She is different: childlike, visceral and visionary in her reactions, echoing the sounds she hears and succumbing to emotion when it comes to animals and children. She embodies fragile, fecund, uncontrollable nature, guarding a secret that she both understands and doesn’t. Stable, capable Hannah acts as her sister’s guardian when others lose patience with her, but even she must remind herself occasionally to be patient; Juno lives by different rules.
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