05 March 2009


by James Roy

Woolshed Press. Australian, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $18.95

It has been nearly a year since Harry’s younger brother Joel died from Cystic Fibrosis. Harry’s mum refuses to pack up Joel’s bedroom as though she is still clinging to his life. Dad is preoccupied all the time. Even Harry is seeing the world differently although everything is the same – except that Joel is not there.

When the family go to spend a few days at Uncle Frank’s in the country to help celebrate his fourth wedding, Harry finds he must face his demons while helping the family with theirs.

Harry feels that he is to blame for his brother’s death. Sure Joel was dying, but did Harry speed things along? And if Uncle Frank really was one of the heroic tunnel rats in the Vietnam War, why doesn’t he talk about it? Even more important, when a young local boy gets washed down a tunnel why doesn’t he help? Where does the truth start and where do the lies end?

As the back blurb says “Sometimes, when you’re surrounded by truths that might be lies, and lies that might just be true, you discover you’re just … Hunting Elephants.”

This is a wonderful story of what happens when people have to confront death, lies and the assumptions others make. James Roy is the winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for his novel Town. I can see why. A great book for young adult boys and girls whether they just want to hunt elephants – or search for the truth.


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