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Gary Lonesborough

Burn by Melanie Saward & We Didn’t Think It Through by Gary Lonesborough

January-February 2024, no. 461

Melanie Saward, a Bigambul and Wakka Wakka writer living in Tulmur (Ipswich), is a fresh and insightful storyteller. Her first Young Adult novel, Burn (Affirm Press, $34.99 pb, 296 pp), is a tumultuous narrative about an Aboriginal youth, Andrew, and his obsession with lighting fires. It has a touch of Trent Dalton’s Brisbane struggle street, but the story draws us into psychological observation in Goori Andy’s cries for help and his longing for his parent’s attention. The novel begins with a bushfire lit by an unknown arsonist, in which a boy dies. This tragedy frames the narrative as we go on the journey with Andy and his mates Trent and Doug, wild teenagers who like to smoke dope and eat at McDonald’s. They are innocents in a world that ignores them as the author interrogates relationships between the lads and several irresistible young females.

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