Book Review: Backwards into the Future, by Bronwyn Elsmore

cv_backwards_into_the_FutureAvailable in selected bookshops nationwide.

Bronwyn Elsmore is a New Zealand author, having also written Every Five Minutes and Seventeen Seas. I haven’t read any of her previous books but I am always particularly keen to read New Zealand authors.

Mary, against all her friends’ advice, decides to move back to her home town of Waimamae after many years of living elsewhere in New Zealand. What drew her back were her memories and the people who lived in the small settlement.

Ana was her best friend growing up. They met at primary school, continuing their friendship through secondary and beyond, to both train as nurses. Ana lived with her grandmother Kui and Hemi, a cousin. Kui welcomed this Pakeha friend of her granddaughter in their home, educating her in the ways of Māori tradition and culture. Both girls challenged each other through games and school, with both achieving high marks in University Entrance.

Small towns have more than their share of tragedy and grief with Waimamae being no exception. Grief is shared between cultures, with the community pulling together at such times. The friendship founders at times, and there are secrets and speculation, with a mystery surrounding why Ana started withdrawing from her friend.

Mary goes home to live to try and find answers to some of the questions she has. The town has changed a lot, with many residents long dead, and questions as to where Ana is go unanswered.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Backwards into the Future – a chance to explore Pakeha/Maori relationships within a small town. Friendship is friendship regardless of culture and race.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Backwards into the Future
by Bronwyn Elsmore
Published by Flaxroots Inc.
ISBN 9780992249144

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