Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
Dear Banjo is a love story set in the cattle country of Western Australia. But it is not just a boy meets girl – something goes wrong – they hate each other –and after several ups and downs they end up together. This is a story filled with human emotion.
Willow and Tom have grown up on neighbouring cattle properties and have formed a very close bond but things fall apart after they are both accepted into the same course at university. While Willow goes away, Tom stays and takes over from his father. Willow’s immaturity in handling her emotions makes her appear aloof and insensitive to the feelings of others. When she returns to take over the property after her father has a heart attack, she is surprised to find that Tom has implemented many of their shared goals for the land while she seems to be facing a wall of opposition.
A friendship between the two returns to a comfortable level until Tom, realizing that it will never develop any further, finally decides he has to move on. It is only when Willow believes that she might lose Tom forever from a terrible accident that she is finally able to tear down the barriers she has erected around her heart. But now it might be too late.
The author, Sasha Wasley, has highlighted the emotion of loss with all its resulting issues. There is the loss of a mother for a teenage girl, the loss of a beautiful long lasting childhood friendship and the loss of ones working life and feelings of worth through growing older. Wasley explores and analyses the emotions of grief, depression, and lack of self-esteem with her characters as well as the emotion of love as one passes from childhood to adulthood.
This story also addresses the idealism of youth as it confronts the as it has always been attitude of the seasoned farmer with a bit of male chauvinism thrown in.
‘…so I’m pretty clued-up with the philosophy,’ he finished. He chuckled. ‘Philosophical farming. The stockmen’ll will get a kick out of that.’
This is a novel about relationships between family members, employer and employees, and could be lovers. For Tom and Willow their friendship could survive anything – except falling in love.
There is much that readers can learn about relationships and feelings by the way these fictitious characters behave in various situations.
Sasha Wasley is an author of many genres, including mystery, paranormal and romance. A recent comer to the world of novel writing her debut novel The Seventh was publish in 2015. The writing style in Dear Banjo is very personal which allows readers to become one with the people on the cattle property. I felt as if I was there enjoying the pig on the spit while celebrating with the people from the neighbouring properties. I felt I was there when they took the townie bush bashing and became bogged in the muddy river and had to be rescued.
‘Oh my God! There’s no way we’re going to get you out of that!’ she cried.
‘Watch and learn, city girl,’ Beth said grinning.
She maneuvered the Beast past Tom’s car, splattering the two of them with red mud while Willow and Tom shouted in protest.
…..’We’ll get our revenge,’ he promised.
And I felt I was there feeling the anguish at hearing of Tom’s helicopter accident.
An unusual aspect of this novel was the way the reader could see into the mind and heart of Tom and Willow through the use of letters, written and not sent or written and not read until much later in their life (hence the title of the book).
I loved this book by Sasha Wasley and if her other novels are written in a similar vein then I look forward with anticipation to see other books she writes in this or other genres.
By Sasha Wasley
Penguin Random House
$ 32.99: 396pp