Impossible to put down YA reads reveal themselves layer by layer.Two recent reads explore male emotions and Australian culture in engaging realistic novels. Scot Gardner creates an awful situation and fills it with humour, raw male emotion, friendship and respect. David Metzenthen describes the horrific aftermath of war in a compelling and heartbreaking story of a Vietnam Vet’s PTSD.
Will and Julian (Jules) meet at work – a suburban shopping centre carpark; they are employed on a trolley crew. Will, well-mannered and obviously from a wealthy background, is homeless and hiding, living under a bowling alley. Jules is a “Westie” and has spent time in juvie. He comes from a loving yet unconventional home. While the mystery of why Will is in hiding drives the novel’s pace, Will’s and Jules’ friendship and loyalty is the highlight of the book. The Way We Roll is filled with hope, brashness and packs an emotional punch. (Goat lovers miss out – the goat on the cover appears for two pages only.)
David Metzenthen Dreaming the Enemy Allen & Unwin
Johnny Shoebridge’s (Shoey) number was drawn from a barrel by a Test cricketer on TV. “It was unbelievable that he could be asked to join the army, no questions asked, or answered.” (I read this during Brexit – I wonder if the Australians who voted for conscription for the Vietnam War regretted their decision as much.)
Johnny may have left the actual battle field behind but his thoughts and dreams are populated by his friends Lex and Barry and the enemy – particularly one Johnny has named Khan. Johnny goes bush – to grieve for his mates and, also, to accept that the ‘enemies’ were people defending their country. Johnny imagines Khan’s life during and after the war. The relationship Johnny develops with Khan is poignant and insightful. This is a tough, sometimes grim and often slow read but highly recommended.
August 18th will be the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Nella Pickup reader
Nella Pickup reader