Review Blog

Apr 27 2010

Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen

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Penguin, 2009. ISBN 9780143010043.
(Age 13+) Highly recommended. Marc Jarvis is your typical teenage boy, a likeable person who is interested in girls, plays footy with his mate Trev and goes to do Work Experience at Gateway Auto, a local car yard owned by Vinnie Gates. He meets Electra, a girl who is an outstanding runner, down from Broome to train. Much to his surprise she returns his interest and as their bond grows, Marc comes to grip with the loss of Anne-Marie, 'a great, great, great girl' and realises that it is impossible to know what is going to happen in the future.
In Jarvis 24 David Metzenthen takes a different turn in his writing from the historical Black Water and Gilbert's Ghost train, both books I love. Told in the first person by Marc, this story of a young boy coming of age is sensitively written and very compulsive to read. I was swept along by Marc's narration as he obsesses about girls, his meeting with Electra and his footy playing. There are several subplots that are equally engrossing. Marc's work experience brings him into contact with Belinda, who is bringing up a child on her own and Mikey, a young gay man who has left his family in Queensland and Metzenthen subtly explores the challenges of being a single parent and of being gay. Death and grieving are also issues that are explored gently and compassionately with Vinnie Gates and Anne- Marie's death. Although the reader never does find out what happened to Anne-Marie, the story of Marc's friendship with her is central to the themes of love and loss and moving on.
The whole of the story is suffused with lighthearted humour with Marc's mate Trev and his dog Dottie, often bringing some funny moments to the narration.
Chosen as one of the short list for the 2010 CBCA award, this is a beautifully written, highly engaging read that will appeal to male and female readers alike and could make a very accessible class text.
Pat Pledger

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