We’re sitting there with matching milkshakes, Sasha and me, and somehow, things aren’t going like I always thought they would. We’re face to face under 24-hour fluorescents with the thoroughly unromantic buzz of aircon in our ears and endless flabby wedges of seated trucker’s arsecrack as our only visual stimulus.
In a dead-end town like Barwen a girl has only got to be a little different to feel like a freak. And Clancy, a typical sixteen-year-old misfit with a moderately dysfunctional family, a genuine interest in Nature Club and a major crush on the local hot girl, is packing a capital F.
As the summer begins, Clancy’s dad is involved in a road smash that kills two local teenagers. While the family is dealing with the reaction of a hostile town, Clancy meets someone who could possibly—at last—become a friend. Not only that, the unattainable Sasha starts to show what may be a romantic interest.
In short, this is the summer when Clancy has to figure out who the hell she is.
I loved following Clancy discover who she is and how she fits into the world. I loved the supporting characters of Nancy, Reeves and Angus. Actually all the characters, I saw bits of people I know in all of them. It was a believable and beautiful coming of age while coming out story.
I love that Clancy’s dad named her after Banjo Paterson’s Clancy of the Overflow. Banjo’s Clancy is one of my all-time favourite characters and I quite often find myself quoting lines of the poem in my head, like while writing this review – In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy, Gone a-droving ‘down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go – Banjo’s 1889 Drover and Christopher Currie’s 2015 lovable self-loathing teen have nothing in common, other than my eternal love and a semi-unusual name.
I highly commend Mr Currie for managing to capture the pure hell and internal conflict of being a teen. The abusive conversations Clancy has with herself were so familiar – as in I had them with myself repeatedly when I was Clancy’s age. I don’t think there is anyone that hasn’t at some stage felt about themselves the way Clancy feels. She is relate-able, even if you don’t identify as homosexual or even admit to ever having desires for the same sex, we’ve all been teens AND being a teenager sucks. Teenage-suck-ism transcends generational and racial gaps. I think Clancy of the Undertow will go down in history as a teen classic along with the time capsule likes of Puberty Blues and The Outsiders.