Another night in Mullet Town by Steven Herrick
University of Queensland Press, 2016. ISBN 9780702253959
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Reluctant readers. Another outstanding verse novel from Herrick stars two Year 10 boys, Jonah and Manx who not only are facing the dilemmas of teenage life but their small coastal town is being taken over by rich city developers. Herrick's verse shows off the virtues of mateship, the gulf between the rich and poor, the heartbreak surrounding family breakdowns but through these problems his story shines with the uplifting message that friends can help each other through the difficult times.
Told in a rich verse narrative by Jonah life for the people in the little town comes alive as he describes the fishing trips that sustain Manx and him, the fights that his parents are having, the parties on the beach, and the attraction that he feels for Ella. Each chapter is given a heading that summarises an aspect of life in Turon - The colour of rich, Climate change 101, The irony of beer - and each illuminates how the boys are feeling and what is going on in the town.
The themes of bullying by Patrick and his father who is a developer are handled sensitively and Jonah manages to work out a way that stops some of the more sinister intimidation that is going on.
There is everything in this novel that will appeal to teens - it is a believable and captivating look at the life that many will recognise - from kids being harassed at school, with developers taking over an area for rich people who no vested interest in keeping the town alive, parties on the beach and good friends looking out for each other. It would make for a great class novel or literature circle book for older teens, giving the opportunity not only to discuss issues around development, but also bullying, drugs and alcohol and coping with broken families.