BabyMac Book Club: The Choke

Can you feel and see the holidays? We still have quite a bit of “stuff” to get through until we are there…lots of end of year school things, a whole lot of family stuff but then we will be there! There will be down time, time to indulge in all the things that we can never usually do throughout the year: like sleep in (ha!) stay up late, watch movies, read books, swim and hopefully get exercise in. For me my favourite thing about holidays though is being able to get offline and read. And these holidays I really hope to do LOTS of that. I have a huge book pile to get through and I thought we better get at least one book for the #babymacbookclub up and running so we can discuss it.

If you are new to the idea of this virtual book club here’s how it plays out.


We chose a book (you can send me suggestions at any time so I will go to you guys with a short list and we can vote…or maybe I will just choose!). We have 6 weeks to read the book (I was going to make it a month but we all know that’s not going to work). Then we come on and have a chat about it, I’ll ask some questions and we can comment on here as well as on Facebook (I think it’s an easy platform for throwing around quick ideas/conversations) which we can do over a glass of wine on our couches. We can all pretend we are sitting around my fire if we close our eyes…


Thanks to the great suggestions from the book shop (and also a few of you suggested this) I have chosen The Choke by Sofie Laguna. It was for sale at my local book shop for $33 (and kindly gifted to me), you can grab it online for $25.50.

I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.

Abandoned by her mother and only occasionally visited by her secretive father, Justine is raised by her pop, a man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop’s chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow it seems they might touch – a place of staggering natural beauty. But the river can’t protect Justine from danger. Her father is a criminal, and the world he exposes her to can be lethal.

Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back.

The Choke is a brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power and violence, in which grown-ups can’t be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature. This compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in trouble celebrates above all the indomitable nature of the human spirit.

Sofie Laguna’s second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep – shortlisted for the Stella Prize – won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the US and the UK, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Sofie’s many books for young people have been published in the US, the UK and in translation throughout Europe and Asia. She has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award, and her books have been named Honour Books and Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Sofie lives in Melbourne with her husband, illustrator Marc McBride, and their two sons.

I think this is going to be a harrowing but beautiful read – the recommendations I had from readers said that tears were shed, but it’s well worth a read.


Buy or borrow the book (for real or on your e-reader device) and get reading! You can buy it from Booktopia here for just $25.50. There will be a post book wrap up virtual book club here on the blog on Monday 29th January 2017 (8 weeks time to allow for holidays). You can leave your comments on the post and we will aim to have a Facebook chat that night from 8pm (AEST) so pour your wine and get ready for a natter. Send me through any suggestions for books in the meantime and we can work out what the next one will be. I can’t promise Proust but I hope we can get through some good reads that will get us back into books instead of being lazy (like me) and spending all my time online at night.

Hope you can join in! Any questions, just let me know…oh and use the hashtag #babymacbookclub if you’re that way inclined. Let’s try and get our reading mojo’s back!

Happy holiday reading friends!

And a special thank you to my local book shop The Bookshop Bowral who gifted me this copy of The Choke. They were happy to give me a book as it encourages other people to read and they are all for anybody reading. Try to support your local bookshops when you can, especially at Christmas time – they are still very special places and I hope they are around for a long time. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. If you are a local in the Highlands make sure you check out their events that they run through the year – such great things to go to.

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