Young adult novel, Waving at the Moon is an apocalyptic story with a touch of romance.
In a post-apocalyptic world, Evie French has just turned seventeen. She and her cousin, Marcus Peters, sixteen, struggle to survive after being left alone in their parent’s bed and breakfast hotel in outback Australia. An endless drought has killed Evie’s father’s avocado trees and all the surrounding habitation. Nothing grows in the fetid soil. Hope comes in the form of a nineteen year old boy, Joel Pitt. He arrives on his motorbike with his dog, Rasputin, bringing supplies. He climbs the tallest tree on the crest of the hill, and locates an area of green down along the coast, hundreds of miles away. The three pile onto the bike, with Marcus and Rasputin in the sidecar, and embark on a trip that will take them over mountainous terrain with a limited supply of food and water. What might they find if they reach the coast? Will other people have survived the devastation? And who bombed their country? No one seems to know.
* * * *
From her vantage point high in the roof, Evie studied the
barren landscape. As usual, nothing moved.
She never got used to the silence.
In the beginning, people had come, confused but still
confident. As time passed, they dwindled to a few—
exhausted, bewildered, and hungry.
After a meal, the wanderers, as she and Markey had come
to call them, moved aimlessly on, convinced they'd find
something better over the hill. Evie's heart squeezed in her
chest when she said goodbye to those people. Especially the
children with eyes like crushed velvet. She'd send them off
with a small parcel of food.
Some people were not so friendly and Markey had been
forced to keep their small hoard of provisions hidden behind a
panel in the library. They'd been luckier than many. Her
parents' country bed and breakfast hotel was well stocked
with food. They'd eaten the refrigerated stuff until the
generator gave out, and denuded her father's avocado
plantation, living on the fruit until Evie half expected her skin
to turn green. The trees were now like everything else
around, bare and lifeless. In the early days, there'd been a
good supply of canned and packaged food in the pantry, but
that dwindled fast.
Evie knew the day would soon come when she would have
to go too. What would she find over the hill, where the
purple-grey cloud sat unmoving on the horizon? No one had
ever come back to tell them.
As the months went by, her cousin, Markey—a chubby,
good-natured sixteen-year-old—had become thin and
secretive. He kept things in a pretty box, inlaid with an
intricate pattern of mother-of-pearl, which had belonged to
his mother. Just looking at it took Evie back to those happy,
lazy days spent by the sea collecting shells—long ago now.
She yearned to lift the curved wooden lid, knowing it would
feel smooth and heavy in her hands, but she had never been
able to hold it, let alone look inside.
She couldn't bear to watch him holding it in his twitching
fingers, twisting it roughly, this way and that.
"C'mon, show it to me," she asked him again. It had
become part of their daily ritual.
"Get lost, Evie." He shoved her away and retreated into
Aware that begging never got her anywhere, she picked
herself up and went to look out the attic window again.
Markey became increasingly difficult. He even called
through the bathroom door to check she was still alive when
she took a bath. Evie would put a chair under the knob and lie
in the brownish, cold water, which barely covered her. She
didn't think her body beautiful. Her skin was moon white. A
vision of her mother laughing, her face covered in brown
freckles, came from somewhere back in her memory. At night
she turned to those vibrant recollections of her childhood.
They helped her to sleep. Evie didn't have a freckle to her
name. It was so long since they'd seen the sun. It was always
covered by cloud now. The bones of her hips and ribs pushed
up against her skin, and her hair swished around in the bath
like red seaweed. It grew down past her waist, but she hadn't
been able to cut it. All the knives and scissors were too blunt
and neither she nor Markey had the energy to try to sharpen
Recalling that day made Evie shiver and she rubbed her
arms. She was no longer sure how long it was since the
bombs had been dropped on the city during her parents'
business trip. The wait for news of them had been agonizing.
When they both arrived home, they thought they were the
lucky ones, but then her mum got sick, her hair falling out
and her eyes turning a strange pink color. And then her dad.
While she was nursing them, Evie wrote in her diary, marking
off the days, but when she got sick herself for a while she
forgot. She'd taken up writing in it again. She felt it was
important to leave a record for the people that came after
them, but a lot of the early writing had smudged with her
Not a drop of rain had fallen since the day the bombs fell.
It was like a long winter. Every day, Evie hoped the spring
would come, and she'd go out into what had once been a
lovely garden, looking for new green shoots. One day her
father's rows of avocado trees would be laden with fruit. She
Evie wiped the dirty window glass with her shirt and
peered down over the garden, but nothing had changed.
Everything remained as if in a state of suspended animation.
She liked to think nature was holding her breath and, some
day soon, would let it out with a whoosh of new green.
The water at the bottom of the well had dropped
alarmingly. As Evie went through her routine check of the
garden, a drop of rain splashed onto her face. She gazed up
into the dark sky, wondering if she'd imagined it. A patter of
fat drops hit her, steadily increasing.
She ran joyfully to the house. "Markey, come out—come
out!" she sang. She wanted to dance about in the yard and
feel the water on her skin, but she knew she wouldn't. Energy
was something you had to conserve. Still, she couldn't
contain her excitement. She was sure the rain would bring
Markey didn't emerge. Evie went to find him and
discovered him where he often was, lying on his bed, the box
perched on his stomach, rising and falling slowly with each
"It's raining," she said. "Can't you hear it? Can't you smell
"What does it matter?"
She checked him again for signs of the sickness, but found
none. He lay very still, his eyes on the ceiling, as if he could
see something of great interest there. She looked up. A damp
spot spread across the plaster just above her bed. She
dragged her mattress out of the way and flew down the stairs
to the laundry in search of a bucket.
The big old house was decaying. Without care, it would
simply rot slowly away. The timbers of the upstairs balcony
were too dangerous to walk on.
She was halfway up the main staircase when she heard it.
A sound like an angry beetle. Just a faint buzz, but it still
brought her up short. A shiver passed through her.
It grew louder. Evie threw down the bucket and bolted out
the front door onto the driveway. The rain attacked her face,
blinding her. Peering through her fingers, she could see a
small black shape moving down the hill road, traveling fast.
Fascinated, she stood and waited as it came closer.
It was almost upon them when Evie began to feel afraid.
She thought she'd buried fear with her parents. She ran back
into the house calling, "Markey, come quickly—something's
The rain grew torrential, filling the blocked gutters and
creating waterfalls all around the house. She shivered and
stood anxiously at the door, her T-shirt and shorts soaked
through. She pulled the material away from her skin. Her hair
hung in heavy, wet ringlets around her face, threatening to
blind her, and she pushed it back behind her ears with jerky
fingers. She could feel the pulse in her throat, and knew she
had been waiting for this moment.
Markey came running. She turned to see him hovering at
the top of the stairs just as the noisy black shape came to a
stop in front of the house, a couple of meters from where she