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Surrender : Popular Penguins : Popular Penguins - Sonya Hartnett

Surrender : Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins

Paperback Published: 28th June 2010
ISBN: 9780143204725
Number Of Pages: 256

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As life slips away, Gabriel looks back over his brief twenty years that have been clouded by frustration and humiliation. A small town and distant parents ensure that he is never allowed to forget the horrific mistake he made as a child. He has only two friends – his dog Surrender, and the unruly wild boy Finnigan, with whom he made a boyhood pact.

When a series of arson attacks grips the town, Gabriel realises how unpredictable and dangerous Finnegan is. Events begin to spiral out of control, and it becomes clear that only the most extreme of measures will rid Gabriel of Finnegan for good.

Author Biography

Sonya Hartnett is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, including Thursday's Child, winner of the 2002 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Forest, winner of the 2002 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Older Readers. In 2003, her adult novel, Of a Boy, won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

In 2000 and again in 2003, Sonya Hartnett has been named one of The Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelists of the Year. Her work has been published internationally with editions available in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway and Denmark.

In 2004, The Silver Donkey was published to great critical acclaim. It has won the 2005 Brisbane Courier Mail award for young readers and was CBC Book of the Year (Young readers) in 2005.

Surrender was published in 2005. It was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year Award and the Aurealis Award - Fantasy Division in 2005.

In 2008 Sonya was the recipient of The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The prize is awarded to authors, illustrators, narrators and/or promoters of reading whose work reflects the spirit of Astrid Lindgren.  It is the first time this award has gone to an Australian.

Sonya's debut picture book, The Boy and the Toy, is being published in 2010. Her latest novel for younger readers, The Midnight Zoo, will be published in August 2010.

Sonya lives in Melbourne. She has a dog named Shilo and cat named Marcus.

Great Australian Novel


Fantastic read, very descriptive and engaging throughout. Builds rapport with the characters and is enjoyable throughout.

Sydney, AU


Surrender : Popular Penguins

4.0 1


I am dying: it's a beautiful word. Like the long slow sigh of a cello: dying. But the sound of it is the only beautiful thing about it.

Several times a week I must be cleaned. Water comes to me on a sponge. I must lift my arms, shift my heels, lower my flaming eyes. I must smell pink, antiseptic. I'm removed from my place while the bedsheets are changed and set to sag in a wheelchair. I am proffered a pan, and the sight of it shames me; at other times I can't call for it fast enough. My food comes mashed, raised on a spoon; spillage will dapple my lap. I am addressed as if an idiot, cooed over as though a child. I'm woken when I wish to sleep, told to sleep when I'd prefer to be awake. I am poked, prodded, pinched and flensed, I'm needled and wheedled and cajoled. My existence is nothing but a series of humiliations, what little life is left to me can hardly be called my own. All of this, this horror, just to say, 'He's dying.'

I hear the words blow like dust through town. From where I lie, in this lean white room, I hear them spoken under awnings, murmured over counters, delivered as knowing statements across gates. It won't be long now. They say he's dying.

They say he's fragile, his skin sugar-white; they say he must be handled like a delicate crown of thorns. They're saying he's as weightless as the skeleton of a crow.

Breathing is an undertaking: it takes minutes to sigh. My ribcage is the hull of a wrecked and submerged ship. My arms, thin as adders, are leaden as dropped boughs. The mattress, my closest friend, has been carved by the knots of my unfleshed bones into a landscape of dents. The soul might rise, but the body pulls down, accepting the inevitable, returning to where it began.

This is where I began: I am dying in my childhood home. Beyond the window straggles the only world I know and wish to know; I was born and grew up in this few-thousand town. There is nothing about its weft and fold that isn't familiar to me. I know the cracks in the footpaths – I have stepped on them a thousand times. I know the product on the shelves and the reflection in the glass – I have seen myself there, left imprints of my hands. I've felt summer's sahara heat and seen autumn's bedraggled blooms; I've kicked black crickets from my toes and fed wood to a hissing fire. I know which gate tilts in the wind, I know what's cropped in which field. I have known the exact moment when every calf and child was born. From here, on the bed, where I see only panelled walls and a haze of curtain which ushers in the breeze, I can distinguish and put a name to every rooster's cry. The breeze brings to me the scent of sawdust, diesel, feathers, chicken soup. They say that smell is the last thing to fade, so I sniff about while I can.

It is as easy for me to die here, in the bedroom of my childhood home, as it would be to die anywhere. The procession of needlers and pinchers know where to find me. The word on the street agrees, says, 'It's better he's home, it's comforting there.' My aunt takes care of me from day to day; she sleeps in the neighbouring room. I'll not pretend her task is enviable. The chronically ill make for difficult work; neither is it easy to be chronically ill. It is an effort for me to do anything – to think, talk, imagine, prepare – to do anything except concede to the demands of my squalling usurper. It rules me like a dictator; in turn I rule my aunt. When the end comes, Sarah will have earned her peace. In the meantime, she's not the sort to put a pillow to one's face: when the illness is looking elsewhere I apologise for the grief I cause and, 'Gabriel,' she replies, 'I'll miss you.'

Inside me roils a thunderstorm. When I breathe, the breath is winter. Lightning jags through my chest, splashes shocks of blood down my chin. Rain falls inside my lungs, sloshes when I move. The thunder rolls like a great cat, settles with a feline weight. The marrow in my bones is ice. My eyes are hailstones.

And I feel old, as old as the mountains that the walls and window won't allow me to see, as old as if every moment has somehow stretched into a year. And anyone who didn't know me might mistake me for an ancient man – I have an old tranquillity. But I am young – I'm the martyr's age. At my age, hearts are pierced with arrows, and taped over with bombs. Mine is the saintly age, the sacrificial one: I am only twenty.

But there's no one here who doesn't know me.

In this small town, conversation is whispered. Treetops, when they buffet, do so mutedly. Cats don't purr, goats don't bleat, birds keep their tunes to themselves. The cow separated from her calf swallows back her moan. Children in their yards don't play, trucks take the long road round. Anything daring to slam with the wind is forcibly nailed down. The wind itself does its best to skulk unheard. Everything here is silenced, for me. Everything keeps a respectful hush. I lie alone in this small room, my childhood's unreliable sanctuary now my prison, soon my morgue, and silence, which is what awaits me, is what I've already received.

Fortunately my ears are sharp.

I hear that they are whispering, 'What was missing is found.'

ISBN: 9780143204725
ISBN-10: 0143204726
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 28th June 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 18.0 x 11.2  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.14
Edition Number: 1