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Boy Swallows Universe: A Novel
by Trent Dalton

Published: 2019-04-02
Hardcover : 464 pages
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“Boy Swallows Universe hypnotizes you with wonder, and then hammers you with heartbreak. . . . Eli’s remarkably poetic voice and his astonishingly open heart take the day. They enable him to carve out the best of what’s possible from the worst of what is, which is the miracle that ...

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Introduction

Boy Swallows Universe hypnotizes you with wonder, and then hammers you with heartbreak. . . . Eli’s remarkably poetic voice and his astonishingly open heart take the day. They enable him to carve out the best of what’s possible from the worst of what is, which is the miracle that makes this novel marvelous.” -Washington Post

An utterly wonderful debut novel of love, crime, magic, fate and a boy’s coming of age, set in 1980s Australia and infused with the originality, charm, pathos, and heart of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Eli Bell’s life is complicated. His father is lost, his mother is in jail, and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. The most steadfast adult in Eli’s life is Slim—a notorious felon and national record-holder for successful prison escapes—who watches over Eli and August, his silent genius of an older brother.

Exiled far from the rest of the world in Darra, a neglected suburb populated by Polish and Vietnamese refugees, this twelve-year-old boy with an old soul and an adult mind is just trying to follow his heart, learn what it takes to be a good man, and train for a glamorous career in journalism. Life, however, insists on throwing obstacles in Eli’s path—most notably Tytus Broz, Brisbane’s legendary drug dealer.

But the real trouble lies ahead. Eli is about to fall in love, face off against truly bad guys, and fight to save his mother from a certain doom—all before starting high school.

A story of brotherhood, true love, family, and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe is the tale of an adolescent boy on the cusp of discovering the man he will be. Powerful and kinetic, Trent Dalton’s debut is sure to be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will experience.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2019: Set in a depressed suburb of Brisbane, Boy Swallows Universe is the unforgettable story of 12-year-old Eli (and his wise, mute older brother, August) gleaning what it means to be a good man from the parental figures in his life: septuagenarian Slim Halliday, Australia's most infamous prison escapee and the boys' babysitter; his drug-dealer-with-a-heart-of-gold stepdad, Lyle; his actual father, an anxiety-ridden alcoholic; and the mother he reveres. It's also the story of a young boy opposing a genuinely terrifying foe: local businessman Tytus Boz is rumored to reuse the body parts of murdered enemies in his artificial limb company, and he’s a heroin kingpin. Life as usual for Eli is a funny, heartbreaking mix of the mundane and the profane, rendered riveting by Eli’s pragmatism and lack of cynicism. He corresponds with inmates, dreams of a career as a crime journalist, and falls in love. When circumstances force August and Eli to move in with their father, Eli must summon all he’s learned to try to save his mother from crippling depression and, later, himself. Throughout it all, the two brothers slowly piece together a dreamlike childhood trauma. Poignant, hilarious, and endlessly imaginative, this is a love letter to clear-eyed male tenderness set against a series of bloody amputations and bricks of Golden Triangle smack. Recommended for anyone who can appreciate laughing and crying at the same time. --Katy Ball

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Overall rating:
 
 
by annabel.s.gibson@gmail.com (see profile) 07/11/19

43

 
by natalieward@live.com.au (see profile) 07/11/19

43 awaiting Steph’s review

 
by suzpartigliani@gmail.com (see profile) 07/09/19

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