I enjoy Kate Grenville's historical fiction. She gets under the skin of her characters, she sees old stories anew. She applies our current sensibilites and understandings to old situations to help us see them with fresh insights. She adds complexity and nuance to the dry history texts we all grew up with.
This is the story of Rooke (aka Dawes) who comes to Australia on the First Fleet as an astronomer. Grenville, through Rooke, provides another voice, another view about that fateful landing and the impact it had on the local inhabitants.
Rooke is also a linguist and it is only natural for him to try and learn the local languages. But to learn the language he has to befriend them first. And with friendship comes connection, kinship & understanding. An understanding that most of his fellow first fleeters are loathe to believe or even care about. This is an adult story that many older teens would also appreciate. It would fit into the HSC 'Belonging' theme quite nicely.