Blind spot by Robyn Dennison

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This easy-to-read book takes place in and around Newcastle. It takes us into the mind of Dale, a Year 11 student, and presents an honest, authentic and compelling insight into the complexity of his life.

The reader is inserted into the lives of Dale and his father who are floundering in the aftermath of Dale’s mother leaving and moving interstate. The relationship between Dale and his father is awkward and the arrival of Max (Dale’s cousin) is a buffer that supports them both in progressing from an “intergenerational share house” to a new kind of family.

In her first published novel, Robyn Dennison has deftly explored the confronting themes of sexual assault and eating disorders and what it means to be a bystander. Dale feels accountable for his role as witness to a sexual assault and this follows him throughout the book. This book deftly tackles the issues of consent and communication through the eyes of Dale and Max.

Dale reveals the socially acceptable practice of teenagers using alcohol and drugs recreationally and as anaesthesia for strong emotions. The writing gently, but powerfully, captures the misery felt when friendships are broken and the hope engendered when they are repaired. The reader cannot help but be touched by the characters and their struggles.

Robyn Dennison has expertly crafted a romance between Dale and Brent that avoids overworked ideas, such as the need to come out, to relate the blossoming and the heartbreak of first love. You won’t be able to put this book down.

Blind Spot was shortlisted for the 2021 Text Prize.

Themes: Relationships (family, friends, romance), LGBTQ, Loyalty, Identity, Masculinity, Sexual assault, Eating disorders..

Linda Guthrie