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lip lit: dyschronia

Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills (Picador Australia, RRP $29.99)

Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills (Picador Australia, RRP $29.99)


Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills is a wonderfully charming, yet melancholic novel that had me wanting to know what happened next. Different stories from different points of time intertwined to create a beautifully sad account of one girl’s life.

While I will admit I had to attempt to read this novel twice before I was able to get through it, I did thoroughly enjoy it. The jumping around in time, as well as speaking from the mindset of a six-year-old, made the beginning of this novel a little harder for me to understand. On the second time through, though, I knew what I was going to be reading, and I was able to really push myself to focus and understand what it was I was reading. I do struggle to work my brain around the logic of certain things, such as time travel and maths-based logic, which I think is why I struggled the first time. But once I figured out the formula for the logic, I was able to read with no trouble at all.

The protagonist, Sam, enters the story at the age of six, plagued by intense migraines that left her with visions of the future. With each one the knowledge she gains becomes increasingly more relevant to her small town of Clapstone, but it also adds to the weight of responsibility she has been forced to carry on her shoulders.

Her relationship with her single mother Ivy, Ivy’s boyfriend, Ed, who promises he can use her gift for good, and his ‘son’, Ned, who is just along for the ride, all become complex and strained. The severity of her visions increases, and the pressure on her to produce useful information to save their struggling town grows every day. The effect of a life fraught with pain, pressure and isolation forces Sam to grow up faster than any child should, creating a photograph of our world’s continuing disasters.

Jennifer Mills has created a wonderfully tragic story that comments quite beautifully on the weakening state of our environment. So many unfortunate things have been happening to the world: natural disasters, temperature changes and environmental changes. Climate change has been a topic of discussion for many years now, and there has been many arguments for real or fake. Mills has created some of the most spectacular literature around the topic; something to really move the argument up to the next level.

The sea is just gone. It disappears, and no one understands why. The bodies of dead fish and sea creatures lie on the sand left behind by ocean, polluting the smell of a town that used to be plagued by the smell of asphalt. Clapstone never really prospered, only barely holding on to survival, but when the sea disappears it only makes things worse.

The series of events that led up to the sea retreating back from the shoreline are intriguing and curious; the decisions of the townspeople unlike any I have seen in real life. The town feels like something that comes out of a dream, yet it feels so real. I was drawn into the world and allowed special access to Sam and her visions, while also being included in the townsfolk and their community meetings. I never felt out of place; I always felt either a part of Sam’s world, or the town’s world. So beautifully written, and so tragic, I just want to wrap them all up in a warm hug and tell them everything is going to be alright. But at the same time, I want to put the book down, read no more, and go back to the real world.

Such charming melancholy has never drawn me in like this and I would like to congratulate Jennifer Mills on creating a narrative that perfectly embodies the complete nature of the oxymoron.

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