Estranged from his family, Alex an Aucklander, flies back to New Zealand after a shattering phone call, to bury his famous film- director parents. Their sudden death, as the result of a car accident, leaves an apprehensive Alex returning to a country which he no longer considers as home. Three years previously, he had hurriedly left his homeland to take up an internship in Dubai; cutting off all contact with his parents and twin sister, Amy. After the funeral, despite their fractious relationship, the siblings recklessly decide to reconnect with each other by taking a road trip to the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga; along the way there are obstacles to overcome, detours and breakdowns.
Amy, the bossy, feisty twin, has dominated her brother, Alex the deeply unsettled, easily hurt twin for most of his life. Notwithstanding their vastly different characters, both children have suffered the neglect of their self-indulgent absentee parents, who valued their own careers more than their offspring.
Sam Coley has used a diary format, which integrates flashbacks into the present day journey, to develop not only the narrative but to explore the siblings’ relationship and their dysfunctional family life. Their journey, which is peppered with grotty fuel stops, rundown motels, fast food containers and the discovery of long lost CDs that allows the twins to reminisce about their past, air recriminations and share regrets, while searching for answers and understandings of what has taken place.
Readers of contemporary fiction will enjoy this moving tale about family by Sam Coley, winner of the 2017 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, in his debut novel. The narrative of the road trip of two thousand miles, from one end of State Highway One to the other, also gives the reader glimpses of this island nation; it’s sprawling cities and tiny villages, rugged coast and beautiful beaches, raging ocean and small native communities.
The author has placed a playlist on Spotify to go with the novel.