Book Review: Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore

Fourteen year old Dylan lives in a tiny outback town. Her absent dad was black and her mum is a white French lady. The two of them dream of one sailing across the ocean to France. When her mother dies in a tragic accident, Dylan is left with her mum’s boyfriend, Pat, a man with a bit of a gambling habit.

I felt sick all through the funeral. Pat had put Mum in the dress she’d worn when they first met. Made it all about him, and I felt thunder in my chest. Death is like the last glass of milk when there is no more in the fridge and the shop is closed ’cause it’s late Sunday arvo

After a flurry of mysterious phone calls the grieving pair set off on a road trip across outback Australia to a destination unknown to Dylan. People keep asking Dylan where she’s from because her skin is the wrong color.

Out here with Pat in the middle of nowhere, I wonder if all these other gum trees are safekeeping secrets too. Maybe there are stories deep down inside the roots or buried between layers of bark.

Dylan has a very specific way of seeing the world. She likes forks and Tina Arena and water. She doesn’t like bad parking or the wolf that lives inside her. She eats white before green and often finds herself in other people’s dreams.

The air is filled with Pat’s other memories trying to be heard. Some fall into the fire, they screech out with pain as they die. Others make a run for it hoping Pat will forget about them all together. One of them dances over the fire and flickers into my dreams.

On the road trip Dylan’s anger and grief get her and Pat into all sorts of strife, but an unlikely bond forms between the pair. Until Dylan realises their destination.

When we are shelling peas for Friday night fritters, all you can hear is pop pop pop! Little peas tumbling into the bowl just like Mum and me used to do, and that was nice, finding a memory in something small and green.

Told in the first person, Dylan’s voice is unique, imaginative and lyrical. Metal Fish, Falling Snow is an emotional journey about grief, friendship, identity, family, coming of age, resilience, and internalised racism. The intensity of the subject matter is lightened by a good dose of magical realism and Dylan’s unique lens on the world.

Born in Guyana and raised in Australia, Cath Moore is of Irish/Afro-Caribbean heritage. Metal Fish, Falling Snow is the screenwriters debut novel. Highly recommended reading,

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