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Publisher's Summary

To Become a Whale tells the story of 13-year-old Sam Keogh, whose mother has died.

Sam has to learn how to live with his silent, hitherto absent father, who decides to make a man out of his son by taking him to work at Tangalooma, then the largest whaling station in the Southern Hemisphere. What follows is the story of a gentle boy trying to make sense of the terrible reality of whaling and the cruelty and alienation of his new world.

©2017 Ben Hobson (P)2017 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A powerful tale of fathers and sons and all that can't be spoken between them. Rare, original...it made me feel so much." (Sofie Laguna, author of the Miles Franklin Award-winning The Eye of the Sheep)
"Hobson takes us to the depths of cruelty to show us life. A boy tries to be a man, a man tries to be a father, and both struggle to navigate what it means to be men. A great study in masculinity." (Willy Vlautin)

What listeners say about To Become a Whale

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Wholesome Australian literature

A heat warning, and heart string pulling story involving a caring young boy dealing with the death of his mother, with the only one left to support him being distant grieving father.

A fantastic read.

1 person found this helpful

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A Rear Gem

Set in the 1960’s Ben Hobson’s novel To Become A Whale tells the story of 13 year old Sam who, after the death of his mother, is taken from his childhood home and thrust into work at a whaling station by his father Walter. Sam has to adapt to his new surroundings as well as cope with his fathers unpredictable mood swings when all Sam ever wanted was his fathers respect and affection. Through this absence of a father/son bond enters Albert, a puppy who Sam is tasked to train to help defend the bush shack and belongings when Sam and his father are away whaling at Tangalooma.

Questions are raised throughout the story as to why the father was the way he was towards his co-workers on the flensing deck and also towards Sam which are answered in due course.

The novel is vivid in detail and the pace is steady as scenes build up and grow with each chapter which helps the reader to easily follow the story, even in flashback, which occurs throughout the book.

This rear gem of Australian literature, though only published 2 years ago, is set to become a classic amongst avid book readers, complete with the narration by Ric Herbert who did not miss a beat when bringing each of the characters in To Become A Whale to life.

5/5 stars

1 person found this helpful

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.