Abel Jackson’s life is intimately entwined with the environment in which he lives. Throughout his childhood, Abel and his mother Dora have depended on Longboat Bay for all that they need. The waters and land of the Bay both sustain and enrich their lives. Despite this idyllic image they lead a hard, basic life. Whilst diving for abalone, Abel befriends an enormous fish who lives off the shores of the Bay. Abel names the groper Blueback and the fish becomes a symbol of the Bay for Abel, representative of everything he loves about his home and also a clear measure of the health of the Bay for Abel and the others who depend upon it for their survival. As he grows Abel must move away from the Bay for school but his heart remains with the Bay and Dora, he is inextricably linked to this place and to Blueback. As time passes, Abel pursues a career in studying the sea and this work takes him away from the Bay but his links to home remain strong. The message of environmental sustainability is at the forefront of this novel. Eventually it is Dora who sees what is needed to protect the Bay – she lobbies hard for the area to be protected and, in achieving this aim, thwarts those who would develop the area purely for financial gain. This novel is an account of Abel’s life journey, and as Dora’s life moves to a close, he returns to establish a life for himself in his true home. He begins to understand what Dora has learnt - that to appreciate and know the Bay he must listen to its needs. This is a story about love and the importance of and contribution that one life can make. It is also about the journey, the power of place and the importance of connections.
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