Tim Winton likes to write about broken people, which is another way of saying he just writes about people.  We are all damaged by the events of our lives, more or less, and the ways we deal with that damage make for really good storytelling.  In this novel, Tom Keely is a pill-popping, alcoholic former environmentalist who has withdrawn from the arena of public conflict in order to live in a fleabag high-rise apartment building.  A chance encounter with a girl from his childhood, Gemma, and her grandson changes everything and actually gives Keely a sense of purpose again, something he so desperately needs.  The chemistry between Tom and Gemma is complicated; she is a willful, uneducated woman who seems totally unsuited for our hero, but it is her grandson Kai that provides the real glue holding these two together.  The result is a very well written book with real heart.  I enjoyed this book so much more than The Riders and found the characters genuinely engaging.  A few hours spent with Tim Winton are well worth your time.

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