My Book Recommendation
An Australian teen learns about life, hidden love, and family secrets.
It’s 1966, and Mark knows he’s different from the other boys, hiding his attraction for his best friend, Dave, by spending time with his friend Laura. Mark’s already low self-esteem, self-doubt, and guilt are exacerbated by bullying at school and abuse at home. Despite his growing closeness with Laura, Mark’s feelings for Dave continue after a series of hopeful, clandestine interactions. Then, Dave disappears; 10 years later, he returns, and when Mark tries to discover the truth behind his absence, upsetting family secrets come to light. While Mark’s interest in cooking, future dreams of living openly as a gay man, and desire to make a living as a chef add elements of lightness and hope, the pervasive themes of abuse, xenophobia, and homophobia create an unrelentingly dark atmosphere. The characters deal with trauma, mental illness, and addiction throughout the story. The dry, slightly dated, and emotionally distanced writing style, along with disjointed time-skips, make it difficult to follow the plot and connect with the characters. However, the discussions of family bonds, complex sibling relationships, finding a place to belong, and the reveal of Mark’s family history are intriguing and messily realistic, if a tad overly dramatic. Characters are implied White.
A bleak tale of self-discovery. (Fiction. 16-adult)
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 252
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Publisher: 5310 Publishing
Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021