A story about saving the ones you love, Sophie Whittaker
December 22, 2021
Mary-anne Scott, the author of classic Kiwi read Sticking with Pigs, has just published a new book called The Tomo. With a country vibe and an exhilarating storyline, this book seems almost like the perfect read!
“Her black tail with its white tip was the last thing Phil saw above the foliage. The bush shook, and there was a terrible dog cry – a long, anguished howl. Then, silence.”
His dad is battling cancer, the stress of his brothers is overwhelming and all the plans for Christmas are totally screwed. Things can’t get worse, can they? When 15-year-old Phil and his dog Blue are sent to work on a station in Gisborne, he has no idea what is in store for them. The boy starts to enjoy himself by riding horses in the countryside, learning about the history of Mt Whakapunake and hanging out with the farm owner’s daughter. But soon the duo comes in contact with an unforgiving tomo, a deep hole in the ground caused by erosion. Can Phil save his beloved pet and himself or are their deaths inevitable?
“A breeze had come up that afternoon, blowing warm but steady gusts and as they set off, the yellow grass lay ahead like an undulating carpet. The grass heads rattled, the horses’ manes and tails shifted and Blue’s coat ruffled in the wind flurries.”
Scott has used a very descriptive but captivating writing style to tell this story. Having all the chapters named after specific knots used in the story displayed with illustrations has just added some pizzazz to Scott’s unique way of writing and relating to readers throughout the book. Although The Tomo is written with lots of descriptive language, the author has managed to add a laid-back approach by adding a couple of “bros” and “mates,” to give it a Kiwi summer feel. The novel is written close to home, as it is based upon her grandfather who went through some similar experiences as the main character during his years as a teenager.
“You’ll get out, Blue,” he vowed. “I’ll do anything, anything at all. You won’t be another chapter in their book of bloody dog stories.”
Phil’s story gives a picture of classic teenage life. He has to put up with annoying younger and older brothers, loves spending time with his dog and can’t wait until Christmas. The boy is one of the more likeable characters because of his determined and kind nature but there are also times when he has breakdowns and takes it out on everyone else.
The Tomo is full of heart-breaking, teeth-chattering and feel-good moments. I would recommend it to anyone who is over the age of twelve as Scott uses her amazing writing skills to describe some not-so-pleasant parts. People who like thrilling stories about animals and New Zealand will definitely enjoy this engrossing read. While reading this book you will feel the wind blow through your hair, see the grass swish in the sunshine and feel the smooth dewy walls inside the depths of… The Tomo.
- Sophie Whittaker is a student on the West Coast.