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Review: The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough

July 8, 2021

About the book:

‘I don’t paint so much anymore,’ I say, looking to my feet.

‘Oh. Well, I got a boy who needs to do some art. You can help him out,’ Aunty Pam says, like I have no say in the matter, like she didn’t hear what I just said about not painting so much anymore. ‘Jackson, this is Tomas. He’s living with me for a little while.’

It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It’s almost Christmas, school’s out, and he’s hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson’s Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city – but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them… As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret – a secret he thought he’d locked away for good.

Compelling, honest and beautifully written, The Boy from the Mish is about first love, identity, and the superpower of self-belief.

My thoughts:

I really loved this book.

A First People’s coming of age and search for identity story, a debut written by Gary Lonesborough, is a journey into a culture and a people and a time and a place that is captivating and sweeps you away. I couldn’t put it down. A beautifully written tale of identity, friendship and belonging. A distinctly Australian story of a NSW outback town where the People are just living their lives and experiencing a regular Christmas Summer.

Jackson’s search for love and identity comes upon him almost by accident when he breaks up with his girlfriend and meets Tomas, the boy who is staying with Jackson’s Aunty after getting out of Juvie.

The Australian Summer is almost tangible. I could feel the sticky hot outback country atmosphere painted so descriptively throughout this story. I could hear the noise of the cousins playing in the house, the buzzing of flies and mosquitoes, the scent of alcohol and paint and pencil lead. The underlying real fear caused racist townies, students and police, the constant anger and frustration, the beauty of Country, of community, of first love, touch and taste, the fear of rejection by mates and family when the truth comes out… Every emotion is honest, brutal, real and glorious.

Gary Lonesborough has written a fabulous coming of age tale that is a must read. I can’t wait to read more of Gary Lonesborough’s work.

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