I loved this book so much I did the ‘fan girl’ thing by contacting the author on Twitter!
So I’m not a teenage boy, or a farmer and have never lived in a rural farming town. This book shouldn’t really be the right fit for me at all. I’d searched the library catelogue for ‘football books’ as research for some AFL themed story ideas we’d brainstormed- up popped Mallee Boys (Wakefeild Press, 2017).
The storyline, told from the two different perspectives of Sandy and his big brother Red, was interesting and fast moving. I loved the way the tension built and how Red’s dark secret was slowly revealed. I thought the protagonists had totally believable personalities and authentically Australian issues and interests- trying to attract the attention of pretty girls, parties, schooling, farming, deadly snakes, grief and loss, family, and friends. I loved the insight into male teenage minds.
Having lost his mother the year before, Sandy has dedicated himself year 10, playing footy and helping look after the farm. His bother, Red struggled with his grief and guilt turning to fighting, drinking and hanging out with his mates. As we follow the two brothers, through alternating chapters, we learn about life and hardships on the farm, their aspirations and love lives.
I highly recommend this book. It would be perfect as a novel study in grade 10.
Trigger warnings: death of a parent (in the past), car accident, alcohol abuse, serious injury to an animal.
What did you think of Mallee Boys? What are your favourite AFL books?