Little Gods (Stella Shortlist 2019)
Olive had reached for happiness as a child not yet knowing that the memories she was concocting would become deceptive. That memories get you where they want you, not the other way around.
The setting is the Mallee: wide, flat scrubland in north-western Victoria, country where men are bred quiet, women stoic and the gothic is never far away.
Olive Lovelock has just turned 12. She is smart, fanciful and brave, and on the cusp of something darker than the small world she has known her entire life. When she learns she had a baby sister who died, Olive becomes convinced it was murder. Her obsession with the mystery, and quest to find out what happened, have seismic repercussions for the rest of her family and their community.
Little Gods is a novel about the mess of family, about secrets, vengeance and innocence lost. It explores resilience and girlhood, and questions how families live with all of their complexities and contradictions.
Resonating with echoes of great Australian novels like Seven Little Australians, Cloudstreet and Jasper Jones, Little Gods is told with similar idiosyncrasy, insight and style.
Funny and heartbreaking, this is a rare and original novel about a remarkable girl who learns the hard way that the truth doesn't always set you free.
Jenny Ackland is a writer and teacher from Melbourne. She has worked in offices, sold textbooks in a university bookshop, taught English overseas and worked as a proof-reader and freelance editor. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines and listed in prizes and awards. Her debut novel The Secret Son - a "Ned Kelly-Gallipoli mash-up" about truth and history - was published in 2015. Little Gods is her second novel.