Roger Averill’s Keeping Faith is a gripping debut novel which explores faith: how it can function against all odds in one person, and falter irrevocably in another. Josh and Gracie are siblings who lead very different lives, believing very different things. Keeping Faith tracks their lives between 1975 and 1994, highlighting the influence of their Father, a lay preacher, and their Mother, who at times struggles with her own faith.
Gemma Collett M/C Reviews http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/
Keeping Faith, Roger Averill’s first novel after his non-fiction debut, Boy He Cry: An Island Odyssey (2009), is a quiet and resonant piece of work. Befitting a novel set partly in a labour ward and beginning with a description of a still born baby it proceeds with the knowledge that finding the right words can be difficult. It speaks carefully and tactfully, in a spare language of great focus.
The novel moves across two periods of time. In the largest and strongest section of the book, set in mid-1970’s suburban Melbourne, the childhoods of Josh and Gracie – raised by a lay preacher father and a doting mother – are surveyed. The familiar details of many male childhoods are skillfully evoked: awkward crushes, sexual daydreaming, patriarchal awe. This section, narrated by Josh, details a quiet loss of faith in his mother and his own dilemmas of belief …
Keeping Faith is a fine novel. What is most engaging is the book’s directness and unapologetic treatment of faith and loss. There is little room for irony or intellectualized disclaimers here. Averill honours the simple speech and pained questions of the grieving without reverting to rhetoric and knowing winks, trusting his nuanced prose to carry the necessary weight. His diligence and literary intelligence are a reader’s reward.
Adam Rivett, Australian Book Review March 2010.
This tender, beautifully written story set in suburban Melbourne is told through the lives of Josh and Gracie Templeton.
The siblings’ father fixes radios at an electrical store but is also a lay preacher with absolute trust in God. Their mother is a believer but when her elderly agnostic friend Mrs. Potter dies, she experiences doubts.
At the memorial service for Gracie, the father and son’s level of faith collides when Josh questions him as to why his sister was taken from the. To this his father replies “You are the lost one, Josh; you’re the one I weep for”.
Although this is a story about the fortitude of faith, and the loss of it, the religious thread fails to detract from the story’s gentleness and ability to move. It also is a well-crafted story about family, childhood recollections, love and loss.
Robyn Doreian, Courier Mail.