University of Queensland Press
Jesse has sworn to take care of his little sister Rachel, a promise made with a blood pact. Jesse and Rachel are growing up in the margins of a violent and uncertain under world, drifting from town to town, skipping school and trying to be invisible to the authorities. Gwen, their mother, is a chancer, wearing her lucky dress and looking for a good time – drinking, doing speed and smoking pot. The hard men she brings home are violent and crazy, each one being tougher and crueller than the last.
But Jesse and Rachel crave stability and a sense of home. Unable to care for them, Gwen abandons the children with her father, Pop, who provides them with food, love, shelter and their only Christmas. On a sudden whim, however, Gwen drags them away to try a new life in Adelaide where she hooks up with the violent Ray Crow.
Blood explores the kinds of trust that children place in their parents. On the one hand Jesse has reached the outer limits of his patience. He is old before his time and has shouldered the burden of responsibility for raising his sister Rachel, for keeping her safe. Rachel, however, still trusts her mother and looks for her approval.
Simply written, Birch uses cinematic imagery, tarot cards, broken statues and deserted country towns of rural Victoria to weave a story of dramatic and sustained tension. Blood is a skilful, tightly calibrated narrative, driven by strong characters and an explosive plot. Birch takes his readers on fast paced journey of cinematic power which is deeply engaging and rewarding.