Into the River

Ted Dawe. Polis (PGW, dist.), $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-943818-19-8
In a book briefly banned in the author’s native New Zealand, Dawe revisits a character from his novel Thunder Road, this time as an adolescent. Te Arepa is a 13-year-old from Whareiti, a Maori village. Te Arepa sees himself in his adventuring ancestor, Diego Santos, whose legend permeates the village. After being accepted to Barwell’s Collegiate, a posh boarding school in Auckland, Te Arepa becomes Devon, disguising his name and Maori heritage to escape torment by senior boys. With friends Mitch and Steph, Devon experiences a world ripe with possibilities and the pressures of academic excellence. But his relationship with Steph brings its own set of problems in the form of stealing, drugs, and sex, including exploitation at the hands of a teacher. Dawe explores the inner sanctum of boarding schools and bullies in the morally confused Devon, who gravitates to choices that derail his life. While the descriptive scenes feel prolonged and the female characters are one-dimensional, Dawe’s novel cleverly leaves the ending unresolved, emphasizing the complications of culture, loyalty, and consequences when “there is freedom and then there is everything else.” Ages 13–up. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Children's
MP3 CD - 978-1-5366-1799-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-943818-54-9
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