Saturday 28 August 2010


Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (Penguin)
PB RRP $27.50
ISBN: 978-0-141-03275-7
Reviewed by Kelli Bradicich

Submarine was inconveniently placed on the top shelf of Borders. I stared at its cover forever, walking away a couple of times before strategising a way to get it down without bothering anyone. As it turned out, I was taller than I thought and it was just within my reach. The cover looked like it had been drawn by a teenager for a teenager. The review on the front from The Independent compared it to The Catcher in the Rye. Before I read the first word, I had the sense that the author had mastered a strong, authentic voice. I was not disappointed.

The main character Oliver Tate is fifteen and everything about him feels real. The story starts with all the ways he plays with his parents' minds.

And it finishes with him sharing random facts with them just to impress.

In the pages between, he runs through life trying to make sense of his relationship and trying to help his parents make sense of theirs. Oliver's thoughts are random and unique, and match his solutions to life's dilemmas perfectly.

There are times you want to scream out and tell him to stop, but if he did the book would not have the spice it has. One thing that continues to stick with me is his idea to cure his father of depression. It involves a father son day at a local fair attraction and is far from being a hallmark moment.

It works. It's memorable and I've never read a solution to depression quite like it before.

Joe Dunthorne has written a coming of age story that is quirky and unique, with witty humour punctuating the sad realities of teenage struggles. It is worth a second read.

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