I started writing this post in April. Here’s what I wrote:
Hooray! My first five-star read for 2019.
That’s as far as I got. Darn it’s difficult to review books that I love, love, love.
So, instead of a review, I’ve listed the elements of this magnificent story that have stayed with me.
01. Eli lives in what many would consider a dysfunctional family. And yet, there is so much love in that family. I’m still not quite sure how Dalton managed to pull that off given the drugs, knives, crime and general sense of fear that dominates the story but it is clear that Eli and his brother know what it is to be loved.
…hugging Dad back feels like the good thing to do and my hope is to grow into a good man, so I do it.
02. This is a story about men and boys, and being a role model –
…every problem in the world, every crime ever committed can be traced back to someone’s dad – robbery, rape, terrorism, Cane putting a job on Abel, Jack the Ripper. It all goes back to dads. Mums maybe too, I guess, but there ain’t no shit mum in this world that wasn’t first the daughter of a shit dad.
03. There are elements of this story that are autobiographical. And it’s astounding (because Dalton’s mum did go to jail, his ‘dad’ was a drug dealer, and his babysitter was a convicted murderer who broke out of jail).
I look into Darren’s eyes. He’s done this before. I’ve never done this. Five hours ago I was drawing my stick figure portrait as a knight, holding Excalibur, in the heat mist on the shower door. Now I’m making a heroin deal with the 16-year-old leader of the 5T gang.
04. It’s really funny (see Tang quote below). And it’s also heartbreaking.
05. Excellent sense of place and time (Brisbane in the eighties). Eli, on Steven Keaton –
The dads in those tv shows spend a great deal of time talking to their kids in their living rooms. Steven Keaton – the dad of my dreams – seems to do nothing but sit on his couch or at his kitchen table talking to his children about their myriad teenage calamities. He listens and listens to his kids and he pours glasses of orange juice and hands them to his kids as he listens some more. He tells his kids he loves them by telling his kids he loves them. Dad tells me he loves me when he forms a pistol out of this forefinger and thumb and points it at me as he farts. He tells us he loves us by showing us the tattoo we never knew he had on the inside of his bottom lip: Fuck you.
06. The suspense – a thrilling, breathless end that was as exciting and as dazzling as the rest of the book.
07. And the lasting message – sometimes good people do bad things and vice versa – the question is, which bits define us?
5/5 A joy.
Out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of a boy standing in the doorway of my hospital room. He wears a light blue hospital gown like me. He has a shaved head but for a long brown rat’s tail stretching from the back of his scalp and draping over his right shoulder. His left hand grips a mobile IV-stand holding the drip bag that’s plugged into his hand.
‘What is it, Christopher?’ asks Dr Brennan.
Maybe he’s eleven years old. He’s got a scar across his top lip that makes him look like the last eleven-year-old boy with a mobile drip I’d ever want to come across in a dark alley. He scratches his arse.
‘Tang’s too weak again,’ he spits.
Dr Brennan sighs, ‘Christopher, there’s twice as much powder in it than last time,’ she says.
He shakes his head and walks away. ‘I’m fuckin’ dyin’ and yer givin’ me weak Tang?’ he says on his way up the corridor outside.
I seriously love Tang. Seriously. These Tang cocktails seem like a waste of precious Tang, and yet…