Love, life, death and everything in between

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am


By Sharon Dogar

Published by Chicken House

ISBN 978 1 905294244

The Dittons are an ordinary family who set off for a family holiday at the coast every summer. They always go to the same place, do the same things and have a wonderful time. But then tragedy shatters their lives.

Last year, their holiday turned into a nightmare. Charley, the eldest daughter, suffered terrible injuries after she banged her head on a rock, and now she is being kept alive on a life-support machine in hospital.

Summer is coming, and the family is unsure what to do: should they go on their usual family holiday, or should they stay home and forget their many happy summers?

The Dittons visit Charley every day, talking to her, holding her and hoping against hope that she will come out of her deep coma. Fifteen-year-old Hal is struggling with what has happened to his sister.

His emotions veer between anger and sadness - all he wants to do is get on with his life, but he can't as Charley hovers between life and death.

Mr and Mrs Ditton are doing their best to give Hal and his young sister a normal life, but it seems impossible. Charley may be in a coma in a hospital bed but she is part of every move the family makes.

The family finally decides to leave Charley behind and go on the usual summer family holiday. Making the mental and physical break from their comatose daughter is difficult for the parents but they also have to think about the well-being of their two other children.

But Charley refuses to be left behind. She may be lying in a coma in a hospital bed miles away, but Hal begins to hear Charley's voice. She seems to be asking for help.

Hal feels he must get to the truth about Charley's accident. Did the waves throw her against the rocks? When Hal meets a girl and starts to fall in love, he is haunted by his relationship with his absent sister.

Waves is the story of a family's distress, but it also delves into the murky waters of teenage emotions. What is the truth of the relationship between Hal and Charley? The pieces of Hal's relationship with his elder sister have to be fitted together before he can move on with his life.

Waves is a well-written and thoughtful debut that lies somewhere between a mystery and a love story. It is edgy stuff and its author is not afraid to delve into sensitive emotional territory as her characters try to cope with the present and come to terms with the past.

Waves is about life, death and everything in between. A truly provocative read.

John Millen can be contacted on