This novel, the second by Ritchie, is an episodic stroll through the lives of the characters, all of whom are either related, or in a relationship with one of the main characters.
There are two sections – the calm, and the storm. The calm of course sets the scene for what it to come. It’s quite a storm, but I won’t give spoilers – but the calm is not all that calm either, really!
There are four siblings – Elena, the pregnant conservationist; Michael the surfer/student who is keen to learn about his Māori heritage from his grandmother; John who hates school and is therefore quite angry most of the time, and Rosa who observes them all with more than the average understanding you’d expect from an eight-year-old. The other protagonists are their separated parents sports TV fan Caleb and doctor/mum Valerie, and their grandmother Gayle. Also Elena’s sidelined partner Malcolm, and Michael’s kind-of girlfriend, animal rights activist Evie. The narrative centres on the thoughts, concerns, and dilemmas of these characters.
Each character has a distinct voice, generally well-drawn, although I find one or two less credible than others – the stereotypical dysfunctional, separated father is one, and oddly the doctor mother is the other. I say oddly because the other female characters are all well-done and even if they appear marginally crazy from time to time, they still are more credible than the mother.
The driving forces for all these people, and their interactions, move the book along, but in the end I did not really enjoy it all that much. Everyone seems to be just a bit too driven.
The writing style is straightforward, but there are some obvious errors of style and language which should have been picked up in editing. So overall, for me it just misses the mark.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman
Fishing for Māui
by Isa Pearl Ritchie
Published by Te Ra Aroha Press