(2007) UQP / Knopf


Ten-year-old Jennifer Day lives in a small mining town full of secrets.

Trying to make sense of the sudden death of her teenage sister Beth, she looks to the adult world around her for answers. As she recounts the final months of Beth’s life, Jennifer sifts through the lies and the truth, but what she finds are mysteries, miracles and more questions.

Was Beth’s death an accident? Why couldn’t Jennifer – or anyone else – save her? Through Jennifer’s eyes, we see one girl’s failure to cross the threshold into adulthood. We see a family slowly falling apart. In this award-winning novel, Karen Foxlee captures perfectly the essence of growing up in a small town and the complexities and absurdities of family life.


  • Winner: 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – Best First Book South East Asia and Pacific Region
  • Winner: Dobbie Award 2008
  • Shortlisted: Barbara Jefferis Award 2008
  • Winner: Parent’s Choice Gold Award 2009 (US)


'There are shades of The Lovely Bones and the Virgin Suicides in this luminous depiction of an Australian family's shock and grief at the sudden death of a 14 year old girl ... Foxlee's writing is generous and unsentimental.'
— The Guardian

'Foxlee perfectly captures the oppressive atmosphere of a small mining town, and the destruction wrought by a sudden death.'
— Herald Sun

Starred Review, Booklist, January 1 & 15th, 2009:
“[A] shining debut . . . Foxlee captures the small ways that humans reveal themselves, the mysterious intensity of female adolescence, and the surreal quiet of a grieving house, which slowly and with astonishing resilience fills again with sound and music.”