Review: Ghost Child by Caroline Overington

Ghost Child

By Caroline Overington

In 1982 Victorian police were called to a home on a housing estate an hour west of Melbourne. There, they found a five-year-old boy lying still and silent on the carpet.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, but the child, Jacob, died the next day.

The story made the headlines and hundreds attended the funeral. Few people were surprised when the boy’s mother and her boyfriend went to prison for the crime. Police declared themselves satisfied with the result, saying there was no doubt that justice had been done.

And yet, for years rumours swept the estate, clinging like cobwebs to the long-vacant house: there had been a cover-up. The real perpetrator, at least according to local gossip, was the boy’s six-year old sister, Lauren…

Twenty years on, Lauren has created a new life for herself, but details of Jacob’s death begin to resurface and the story again makes the newspapers. As Lauren struggles with the ghosts of her childhood, it seems only a matter of time before the past catches up with her.

This is a book that speaks volumes about the way that we should treat children; as parents, neighbours, citizens, workers, and carers. We join the family after the police and ambulance have been called to attend to Jacob – who allegedly had been attacked on the way to the shops with his little brother Harley, beaten and robbed for a few dollars.

The main character throughout the book is Lauren, even though it is really Jacob’s story, it is her that the story focuses on and keeps coming back to. It is narrated through the eyes and memories of most of the main characters who were involved with the family around the time of Jacob’s untimely death, but told twenty years on, when Lauren again comes to the attention of the media.

I found that the story really captured, how it is us as adults who need to stand up and protect our children, they will either copy and mimic us in good or bad, lie to protect us, and essentially do as we ask regardless of the consequences as we are there role models.

The author tells how the Department of Children’s Services can fall short in their care of young children who have nowhere to go after they are left orphaned, abandoned or otherwise. It covers how much it can affect children psychologically when they are pushed from carer to carer without a stable environment to teach them respect and boundaries. It questions whether the best thing for a child is to maintain contact with their mother – even when that mother is in jail for the manslaughter of their own son.

It is a book that could read as a true story, as it is a story that could actually happen.  A compelling read.

Favourite Quote: ‘It was such a relief to hear those words: We were both just kids.’ Page 353.

Pages: 363

Published by: Random House

Recommended Retail Price $32.95

Recommended Age: 18+

My Rating: 4/5

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One Response to Review: Ghost Child by Caroline Overington

  1. Thank you for this review! I’ve noted this one 🙂

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