Title: Boy Swallows Universe

Author: Trent Dalton

Published: June 2018

Genres: Contemporary/Australia




A novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane's violent working class suburban fringe. Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crime 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.



There was a lot of pressure on Trent Dalton for this to be exceptional, lets be honest. A coming of age novel, with a big heart. This one gave me all of the feels. The story of 12 year old Eli, growing up in 1980’s Brisbane and his mute brother August. With a lost father, an addict mother, and a life surrounded by drugs, violence and crime, their future could seem bleak. But this story is so far from that. I loved the intricacies, and I think each character played their own important role in shaping the narrative. The fact this is based on Trent Dalton’s life, deepens the contextual theme of surviving, and how much say we have in the paving of our own path. I must say, I felt the end seemed a tad rushed, and a little farfetched, but in a “bet you didn’t see this coming” kind of way. This book is worthy of its accolades. 


TAY'S REVIEW   ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another case of the book not quite living up to the hype for me, however it did have a lot of redeeming qualities. It was very Australian, and I enjoyed the references to places in my own city as I was able to really visualise the scenes. I enjoyed knowing it was loosely based on the authors childhood keeping me guessing where fact ends and fiction begins. I found the characters themselves to be quite compelling and the relationships between them well portrayed by Dalton. Although I couldn’t really get into it until well after halfway, the climax of the novel had me completely absorbed, turning the pages like a mad woman. An almost other-worldly story about a young boy navigating his way through themes of drugs, violence and poverty that was often so heart-wrenching I just wanted to jump through the pages of the book and give him a huge hug. Side note: was it just me that pictured a young Ansel Elgort as August? I’m guessing it had something to do with his character’s name in Fault In Our Stars and being the “strong silent type” in Baby Driver.

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