The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick
Re-print. University of Queensland Press, 2014. ISBN: 978070223133.
The Simple Gift gives us as readers a unique reading experience, a story told through a series of short, easy to read poems which have nothing to do with the sometimes tedium of traditional poetry. Poems written by the hand of three different characters tell Billy's story about running away from home, from beatings and the antics of his drunkard father.
Hoboism is a lifestyle choice for some, usually for those who are trying to escape their past; this is the case for sixteen-year old Billy as he walks down the lonesome highway away from his Wentworth life taking with him the remainder of his dad's alcohol and smokes out of spite. He finds himself in a small town called Bendarat where he makes himself shamelessly comfortable in an old train carriage. It is a new home free from the fear and violence of his past. He lives off leftovers from McDonald's and his fifty-dollar savings fund while making friends with a few choice locals including the local librarian Irene, Old Bill who is a fellow hobo and high-school student Caitlin who mops the floors and watches him as he waits patiently for his dinner.
The Simple Gift is just that, a gift; wonderfully written and easy to read this engrossing book is filled with all of the description and emotion attributed to poetry without the assumed tedium. I would highly recommend this to young adolescents who do not like to read (and even those that do). It is easy to forget that this is a book filled with poems about growing up and finding oneself and slip into the shoes of Billy, Old Bill and Caitlin as they enjoy the pure pleasure of having nothing and giving all.