Review Blog

Mar 15 2008

Game as Ned by Tim Pegler

cover image

Angus and Robertson, 2007 ISBN978073238576 0
(Age 13+) When Tim tries to speak, his body clams up, his head pounds and he feels sick: so he doesn't. Left in grade 6 for 3 years meant he saw a lot of the inside of the library, sent there because of his failure to respond in the classroom.  And here he learns about Australia's bushrangers, Ned Kelly in particular. With a father killed in Vietnam, and a runaway mum, he lives with his grandfather, a man who refuses to allow his autistic grandson to be experimented on with drugs and therapy.

Working at a sheltered workshop, he meets Erin, employed to be the cook and general dogsbody.  She has problems of her own, but sensing a kindred soul, she teams up with Ned, chattering away to him, while he remains silent. But the town bullies intervene and put pressure on both these young people, and Erin and Ned must stand and fight.

A wholly absorbing read which took me back to the 1970's, with its setting of a small country town, where girls were sluts and boys' behaviour ignored. Passing mentions of the Vietnam War and Skyhooks added to the backdrop. The treatment of both protagonists will evoke a strong reaction from the readers, and they will be gripped by the final few chapters, as Ned tries to relive his hero's and namesake's actions.
Fran Knight

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