Mallee Boys

Young adult fiction set in rural Australia

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

2018-11-10 14-1065443770..jpg

“Malley Boys” by Charlie Archbold is a young adult novel set in the Mallee. The story is told from the alternating perspective of two brothers, dreamy intellectual Sandy who is 15 years old and rambunctious 18 year old Red. Both brothers are reeling from their mother’s recent death, and their dad has his hands full with the farm. As both boys face their first year without their mum, they also face some big decisions about their futures.

This is an engaging and well-written book that I think will definitely appeal to country teenagers. Archbold has an engaging style of writing and captures the inner voice of two very different young men. In a time where people are talking a lot about things like toxic masculinity, the interplay between Sandy, Red and their dad is a really interesting way to explore different kinds of masculinity – even within a single family. Sandy is one of those quintessential non-blokey characters who is a little bit older than Charlie from “Jasper Jones”, and who I think I liked a bit better. Sandy has a quiet, gentle confidence about him that I think a lot of teens would relate to. I also think that this book handles the issue of grief and the diverse ways that people experience grief really well.

However, diversity generally was something that I would have liked to have seen a little more of in this story. Rural kids are not homogeneous kids, and I think that Archbold missed the opportunity to include some ethnically-diverse characters, including Aboriginal characters, as well as some LGBTIQ characters. The book is set more or less in present time, the kids all have phones, and it would have been good to see a bit more of a modern Australian demographic reflected in the story. I think this would make the story even more appealing to a broader audience. As someone who went to school in a rural town 20 years ago, it was definitely filled with more than just blonde kids.

Nevertheless, this is a very readable story that tackles some tricky themes. I think that if the aim is to both challenge ideas of masculinity and get young men to read, this book definitely achieves that.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Mallee Boys

2 Comments

Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Young Adult

2 responses to “Mallee Boys

  1. Nice review Angharad. I read and enjoyed this book too. You make an interesting point about diversity. Of course, Jasper Jones has an indigenous boy and a Vietnamese boy (though I’ve heard the latter questioned in terms of the time of the novel.) I don’t quite know what to think about this. In Silvey’s book, the diverse characters are important to the plot, but they are not in Archbold’s book. I think there’s value in keeping the “cast” tight and relevant to the theme which, here, was the three males coping with their grief and the resultant change in their lives – but I’m not married to this idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: YA Round-Up Issue 10, 2018 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s