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Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton


Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★★]

Prepare to fall in love…

This ARC was provided by Harper Collins UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Fall in Love. This is a rare 5 star read for me and all the praise I could lavish on it would just sound like a cliché instead I suggest you prepare yourself to fall in love and read this book.

Those who want the full review clichés and all here we go. This book is hilariously funny and at the same time heartbreakingly sad. I found myself routing for drug dealers, prison escapees, substance abusing parents and all without batting an eye because Eli shows us that there is good and bad in everyone, the trick to being a good person is to do more good than bad.

I loved the magical aspects of the books especially the concept of time being something you can control using no more than your thoughts and memories. I love the way fate steps in and the way that it seems August can predict the future, the way that it may take several chapters before you see the meaning behind something August has written in the air and the way the past is slowly revealed throughout the book until the reader has an understanding of how Eli’s family have come to be in the situations we see them in. I also love the way some essential questions about the past go unanswered, they are left for the individual reader to decide.

On top of the fantastic story about love, hope, family, redemption, survival and probably anything else you care to think of the writing in this book is beautiful, it is also foul mouthed and devastatingly funny I am in awe of the way Dalton weaves all of this into a cohesive whole (and in case you are wondering no I am not related to him and we are not friends, I really do just love this book). Add into the mix various literary and musical references and I was in heaven.

In case you don’t believe me here are some spoiler free quotes:

“Mum was the orb-weaver spider in those years. And she was the web, and she was the butterfly too, the blue tiger butterfly with sapphire wings being eaten alive by the spider.”

“Why are you crying?’ Lyle askes. ‘I don’t know, I really didn’t want to. My brain doesn’t listen to me.”

“Maybe we’d all be much more effective communicators if we all shut up more.”

“He taps furiously into his word processor as he speaks “Shocking revelations have emerged in the case of the missing Penn family from Oxley with sources not at all close to the family saying they lived on a street that often flooded in heavy rain events.”

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who likes their fiction to have a heart and a soul and who doesn’t mind foul language and a good dose of criminal behaviour.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?

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