Saturday 23 November 2019

Book Review: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Boy Swallows Universe
Author: Trent Dalton
Harper Collins Australia

Publication Date: 2018
Contemporary Fiction
Borrowed from a Colleague


A novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane's violent working class suburban fringe - from one of Australia's most exciting new writers.

Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer.

But if Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum.

A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year. 

It took me a little while to get into Boy Swallows Universe, but I persevered and ended up enjoying it. Eli is an interesting character and by the 25% mark I was invested in him and his story. I particularly appreciated the odd touches of magical realism, the veracity of which were never fully revealed, leaving it to the reader to decide whether or not they really happened or if it was all just in Eli's imagination. The prose style was engaging, the story held my interest (once caught) and I would certainly check out future works by this author.

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