Eumundi’s Sue McPherson’s book “Brontide” shortlisted for the 2019 Most Underrated Book Award

Eumundi’s Sue McPherson’s book “Brontide” shortlisted for the 2019 Most Underrated Book Award

Sue McPherson is a visual artist living in Eumundi, Queensland. She was born in Sydney to an Aboriginal mother, from Wiradjuri country. Sue was adopted into the McPherson family, landowners from the Batlow area in New South Wales, when she was very young.

A weekend writing workshop inspired Sue to join a writers’ group and commit to writing a young adults novel, Grace Beside Me which won the kuril dhagun Indigenous Writing Competition through the State Library of Queensland.

(The Wiradjuri peoples are located in central New South Wales on the plains running north and south to the west of the Blue Mountains. The Madi people are located in the Northern Riverina and Far West regions of New South Wales)

Sue McPherson’s “Brontide” shortlisted for the 2019 Most Underrated Book Award

Brontide was a highly talked-about release for its candid, interview-style format covering topics of racism, risk taking, foster care, adoption and toxic masculinity.

Convened by the judging panel consisting of Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang, they said of Brontide, “Young adult books have the latitude to delight in experiments with form that are often denied to those in the adult market. Sue McPherson has taken full advantage of this, and truly played with structure in her novel Brontide, a small marvel with a big heart. Despite its brevity, these pages hold a deceptively ambitious structure, told via interviews with four high school boys in a small Queensland town. These four voices ring out with irreverence, humour, pain and longing—their thoughts are presented unvarnished, resulting in big moments that are in turn hilarious, confronting and even heartbreaking. Utterly unpretentious, this is a hidden gem that would particularly appeal to reluctant teen—or even adult—readers who still want complex and nuanced storytelling. The book is not without flaws, but the reader is quickly swept up in a compelling narrative and few will leave dry-eyed.”

Brontide is a coming of age story about four boys and their lot in life. Recounted through storytelling sessions at their school over a period of five days, these boys chronicle their lives. They are at times demanding, occasionally rude, always funny and unexpectedly profound. The boys like to challenge themselves and the rules, and soon realise that not everything goes to plan.


“Brontide is really clever. It captures you immediately. You cringe, get angry, laugh and cry. Most clever of all is the way McPherson authentically captures the boys’ stories. Brontide is sure to draw in all readers from the most reluctant to the highly discerning”. Angela Burroughs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, ACT

“A fantastic book – providing a springboard into so many conversations relevant to young adults – conversations about family, belonging, racism and risk-taking.” Melanie Dickie, NIT

“This was young adult unlike anything else I have read.” Crazy Books Lady Blog

“Coastal life, family, ambitions, relationships, cross-cultural adoption and fostering in white and Aboriginal families, toxic masculinity, race, culture and identity come up in this far-ranging and highly readable novel about four interconnected young men.” Leanne Hall, Readings

“Brontide should prove to be a simultaneously accessible and engaging read for high school readers. It is to McPherson’s credit that readability and accessibility have not come at the expense of thematic or literary worth: far from it. Important ideas about race, culture and especially masculinity are all waiting to be unravelled and discussed.” Daniel Howard, Teacher, New Town High School (TAS)

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book for many reasons: the author puts herself in the shoes of the teenagers, so they talk like many young men do: occasionally rude, sometimes demanding and often humorous. The book is also serious, when it needs to be. Brontide is not your everyday young adult novel as it displays humour and drama perfectly and has a twist that I am sure you will enjoy when reading this book – just as I did”. Jackson Mellor, 14 at time of review, New Town High School Tas

“I think it is a terrific piece: with authentic voices, a clever but apparently loose structure that is very engaging and accessible to readers of all abilities – but especially boys. And importantly, the text manages to deal with significant issues, concepts, social constructs and situations concerning culture and masculinity in a way that still engages its audience. It also builds suspense very well, further ensnaring its readers.” Phil Page, Australian Association for the Teaching of English.

Brontide can be purchased from all good booksellers.