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A powerful story of love and loss, secrets and revelations - and making sense of a past that once seemed perfect.

For Tom Brennan, life is about rugby, mates and family - until a night of celebration changes his life forever. Tom's world explodes as his brother Daniel is sent to jail and the Brennans are forced to leave the small town Tom's lived in his whole life. Tom is a survivor, but he needs a ticket out of the past just as much as Daniel. He will find it in many forms . . .

A Teaching Support Kit is available at www.randomhouse.com.au/teachers


*** Winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year - Older Readers 2006 ***

Winner of the Australian Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature (Novel) 2006

‘A must read for all teens’ David Koch, Channel 7 Sunrise

' . . . a tragic tale told with sensitivity and skill. Burke's latest novel is beautifully moody, with intense sorrow soothed by instances of love and humour. The story is immediately alluring . . . Burke has delicately crafted the story to give only a little at a time, building up the intensity and creating a palpable sense of the Brennan family's grief, shame and confusion.' Angie Schiavone, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 19 August 2006

'From my small town childhood and youth I can vouch for the verisimilitude of the events that course through THE STORY OF TOM BRENNAN … JC Burke is right on the money. It is a memorable book. Through the eyes of Tom Brennan she has convincingly related an all too common experience but she also manages to draw light out of the darkness. At a time when communities and government are searching for ways of reducing road trauma among youth following recent horrific road carnage, this is indeed a timely novel.' Kevin Steinberger, Viewpoint 13 (4) Summer 2005

‘Burke gently probes the pain suffered by Tom and his family and uncovers, realistically, some of what goes on behind the headlines.” AB&P

'This book by J.C. Burke was a great book. I could hardly put it down. I especially like the flow of the book, especially how it starts off slow and works its way up to a fast pace.' Robere Rahme, age 13, Random House Book Buddies Club

'I particularly liked the way the story about the accident was revealed bit by bit, rather than all at once. It ... helped to build suspense and to make me want to keep reading … This was not an easy book to read because the subject matter is fairly confronting ... However, it is probably a very worthwhile book for teenagers to read, since it delivers an important message about the dangers of drink driving.' Christian Sexty, age 14, Random House Book Buddies Club

'The author's way with words is terrific, and I felt [she] portrayed the character of Tom excellently ... It was very realistic, with Tom's mum not being able to get out of bed, and the author didn't try to make anyone a hero, [she] just tried to portray the different people's emotions accurately. I enjoyed it immensely.’ Alexis Killoran, age 15, Random House Book Buddies Club

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    October 3, 2005

    Random House Australia Children's

    288 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    May 1, 2010

    RHA eBooks Child

    288 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

Awards and Recognition

  • Australian Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature
  • Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year
    Older Readers
  • National Children's Peace Literature Award
    National Children’s Peace Literature Award

Also by J.C. Burke