The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick

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University of Queensland Press, 2018. ISBN 9780702259982
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Coming of age, Domestic violence, Alcoholism. Herrick once again delivers a stunning look at adolescence with some very strong themes of responsibility and friendship threading throughout the easy to read novel. As Charlotte says: 'There are worse things than school.' When Luke becomes friends with her things begin to change. He has been trying to get over the death of his father, wagging school and spending time at the reservoir, but with a visit to Charlotte's house, comes the discovery that wealth and power can hide some awful things.
I found this to be a very compulsive read and managed to finish it in one sitting. Herrick is a master at delving into the mind of young men, and his portrayal of Luke is thoughtful and compelling. Luke's father was a smoker, drinker and spent his money gambling but he was also loving and cheerful. His death has had a huge impact on Luke, who spends his time taking photos around his Blue Mountains home. He has a great relationship with his mother and knows that he is loved. Charlotte on the other hand has arrived in town, with rumours about her expulsion from school and hints of a new start. She comes from a wealthy family and her home and money is an eye-opener for Luke who comes from the wrong side of the highway.
It is Luke's sense of responsibility and loyalty to his friends that shines through the novel and could provoke a lot of discussion if The bogan Mondrian was used as a class novel.
I love the funny talk about verse novels: 'Why didn't the poet just tell the story in the normal way?' and the exposition of Mondrian's art work is fascinating. Country life in the Blue Mountains is also compellingly described as are the interactions with Luke's teachers and friendly neighbours. And the dog Buster is a character in himself.
Lyrical prose, excellent representation of life at school and some thought provoking themes make this an outstanding read for classroom and a must have for libraries.
Pat Pledger