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Strange Objects Gary Crew Essay

 A supernatural mystery of a high order--named Australia's ``Best Children's Book for Older Readers'' in 1991--looks into that country's sometimes brutal relations with its indigenous people, challenging readers to interpret the past anew. The hero (or antihero--interpreting Steven Messenger is one of the intriguing tasks Crew sets) stumbles upon sacred, perhaps magical objects belonging to local aborigines: an ancient human hand and a curious gold ring in an iron pot. To whom these really belong becomes a matter of national debate--and focus of a struggle between Steven and his conscience, and between him and a tribal leader. The book is skillfully framed as a collection of documents, alternating with Steven's experiences--police accounts, letters, news stories, historical records, psychological testimony, translations, commentaries--amassed by a researcher; most compelling is the 350-year-old journal of a survivor of the ill-fated ship Batavia, whose account eventually explains the source of the objects and whose strangely possessed companion is, in many ways, Steven's diabolical double. A demanding book that forces readers to judge the evidence (it would be fascinating to analyze with a high-school English class). Whether or not its lack of resolution is stimulating may be a personal matter--some will find the inconclusive ending more annoying than provocative. Still, for anyone who's interested in literature or history, there's much here to ponder. (Fiction. YA)

The novel’s hero, Stephen Messenger, is a sixteen year old who discovers a leather-bound journal and other mysterious objects in a cave. The relics are believed to have belonged to two survivors from the Batavia, a ship that wrecked off the coast of Australia in 1629.
These relics provide Messenger with a direct link to his country’s earliest European inhabitants. In thisThe novel’s hero, Stephen Messenger, is a sixteen year old who discovers a leather-bound journal and other mysterious objects in a cave. The relics are believed to have belonged to two survivors from the Batavia, a ship that wrecked off the coast of Australia in 1629.
These relics provide Messenger with a direct link to his country’s earliest European inhabitants. In this story Crew examines the relationship between the Europeans and the Aboriginal peoples. The author challenges the reader to consider some unpleasant aspects of the European settlement of Australia. The reader is encouraged to reassess what forces shaped this nation and the effect the white invasion has had on the indigenous inhabitants....more