Ivan Francis Southall - Hill's End - 8

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Ivan Francis Southall - Hill's End - 8

Postby ChoChiyo » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:23 am

Hill's End

Several years ago, the librarian at the high school decided it was time to clean out the library. Hundreds of vintage juvenile fiction books went into the dumpster INCLUDING THE WHOLE COLLECTION OF ADOLESCENT FICTION BY ROBERT HEINLEIN before I became aware of what was going on. Aghast, I salvaged scores of these books. Alas, I was too late to save the Heinlein collection, with their charming vintage illustrations.

I became an English teacher because I love books. I love to read and I love to write. The problem with being an English teacher is that I was so busy teaching others to read for pleasure and to write well that I never really had time to read and write for my OWN pleasure. Now that I am "retired," I am working my way through the vintage adolescent fiction books I salvaged. Hills Endby Ivan Southall is one of those books.

Published in 1962, Hills End is set in a remote, mountainous area of Australia in a town founded by a visionary lumberman. A lie told by the lumberman's son Adrian to escape punishment for skipping school leads to a small group of children staying behind at the isolated village with their teacher while the rest of the community heads across the bridge over the insanely deep and uncrossable-without-the-bridge chasm to the big yearly picnic bash. The children along with their spinster school teacher head up to some caverns where Adrian claims to have found ancient cave paintings. An unseasonable and violent cyclone hits their village, collapses the bridge, and isolates the children from their parents. The story shows the evolution of the individual children from rather helpless and fearful to team players finding a way to survive.

Again, this book is like a peek into a world that existed decades ago. The social mores and religious views expressed in the book were nearly identical to those which saturated my childhood. I don't think the youth of today would be able to stomach this book, but for me, it was somewhat charming and nostalgic. The children were the sort of idealized characters that I grew up watching on TV shows like Gentle Ben , The Waltons , and Little House on the Priaire . Cute, flawed, but not too badly flawed, and eager to do the right thing. Totally unrealistic, but I liked all of them.

The plot was a bit contrived, but I enjoyed that too.

A really ironic thing was that I discovered I had actually read this book when I was in high school myself. There was a detail in the book about one of the kids experimenting with the sausage making machine in the general store that I remembered because I was so horrified by the fact that he was using rotting meat. Another thing that was ironic was that I had picked this book up and started reading it just before the horrific tornadoes in Oklahoma. The level of destruction of the tornadoes in Oklahoma was the same as that in the book, so while I was reading the book and watching the footage on the Weather Channel, I could imagine the destruction of the village of Hills End quite vividly.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys vintage adolescent fiction.

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