Saturday, 14 March 2020

A New Kind of Everything


A New Kind of Everything by Richard Yaxley, (Omnibus Books), 2020, PB RRP $18.99 ISBN: 9781743834077
Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

Hey, son, you worked out yet what love is? This is a question Dinny’s father used to ask him. Now his father has died in an unlikely car accident.

14-year-old Dinny is a quiet, contained boy with a sensitive nature, struggling to keep “acting like a man”. His mother is battling her way through grief at her loss. His older brother reacts by leaving school and joining Return, a far-right gang that aims at bringing back the real Australia. In an attempt to find himself, Dinny forms a friendship with Krush who believes that taking risks is the only way to stop being boring.

The text is divided into three parts: The Requiem, which looks at the immediate aftermath of the death; If We Jumped, which deals with Dinny and  Krush; A New Kind of Everything which explains his father’s past. This section also involves redemption and yet another death for Dinny and his mother to cope with. The book ends with a rather strange time shift into the future when Dinny is an adult. 
Richard Yaxley is a brilliant, original, author. In 2018 he won the Prime Minister’s award for young adult literature. His writing is full of interesting uses of language. There are moments of intense action and quite a lot of violence, although some of the darker moments are hinted at rather than described in detail. The characters are three-dimensional and totally believable. Especially interesting are Dinny’s neighbours, Mr and Mrs Wen, who offer a poignant retelling of their migrant experience.
Yaxley has a wonderful ear and his dialogue throughout is authentic. Dinny’s first meeting with the criminal Jaxon Cannane, told almost entirely in dialogue, fills the reader with a horrible sense of fear for the future.
A New Kind of Everything is a gutsy, no-holds-barred YA novel, recommended for readers 14+. It will particularly resonate with boys.

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