I read my first Herrick last year when I fell in love with Pookie Aleera. I knew I would have to read more.
The Simple Gift is an older teen read, written in verse. (Please, please, please do not be put off by the fact that this is a verse novel. Herrick writes so simply and cleanly that you quickly forget that you're reading a verse novel.)
Billy is growing up tough. An alcoholic, abusive father and neighbours who don't give a shit. He decides to run away.
The Simple Gift is his story on the road...or to be more accurate, on the tracks.
He hitches a ride on a freight train, meets with kindness from strangers, works things out for himself & repays the kindness to others.
With very few words, Herrick packs an emotional punch. We enter into Billy's world completely for an enriching, nuanced story about belonging, self-discovery, kindness, generosity & love.
The story does contain some sex scenes & sexual references (appropriate for 14+ readers).
My only beef with Billy's story is the heart-warming, happy ending.
Anyone working with runaway youths would know that most of the real-life stories don't end out as well as Billy's did.
The Simple Gift was shortlised for the 2001 CBCA & NSW Premier's Literary Award.