'All in?' Kieran pulled me up, and the others followed. We gathered around the bigger tree. No one asked Matty - he just reached up and put his right hand on the trunk with ours.
Kieran cleared his throat. 'We swear, on these trees, to always be friends. To protect each other - and this place.'
Finding those carved trees forged a bond between Jay and her four childhood friends and opened their eyes to a wider world. But their attempt to protect the grove ends in disaster, and that one day on the river changes their lives forever.
Seventeen years later, Jay finally has her chance to make amends. But at what cost? Not every wrong can be put right, but sometimes looking the other way is no longer an option.
A beautiful meditation on the Australian landscape and the Aboriginal connection to it, Where the Trees Were is a must-read for anyone who has ever swung on a tyre over a slow-moving brown river or lain on the ground looking up at a scorching blue sky through the shifting leaves of a gum tree.
Told in Inga Simpson’s deceptively simple style, the novel moves back and forth between the adulthood and childhood of a Canberra art curator called Jay. In the past lie tragedies and misunderstandings that shaped Jay’s psyche and still have ramifications on her life today. Jay is searching for a way to make amends for what happened, but her quest may cost her everything she most cares about.