By Archimede Fussillo
A moving and explosive tale about what happens when tradition and the need to belong collide. Frankie Rescio is struggling with the death of his sister. Next door, Lochie Marsh is about to have his world invaded by his estranged, pregnant half-sister and her layabout boyfriend. Despite tensions simmering just below the surface for both boys and their families, they form a bond that connects their different worlds. Until tribal lores threaten to bring everything crashing down.
Frankie’s story is set in inner Melbourne in about the 1970’s or 80’s. Frankie is born into an Italian migrant family and all that entails – hard work, respect, family and loyalty.
When the Marsh family move in next door, they couldn’t be more different. But Frankie quickly becomes friends with Lochie and their friendship grows, and runs deep. And that is really the case with both families in this story – as Frankie’s family form bonds through kindness with their neighbors.
This is a wonderful exploration of who your ‘tribe’ can be. Primarily, we have our family and they can be very different to us, but they are our tribe anyway. But we also have our friends, who might be similar or different but are the group that look out for one another. The group might have a leader, sometime challenges to that leadership, but inevitably contains those in the group that you are close to and those that you might not even really be mates with.
Australian author Archimede Fusillo’s in-depth look at the workings of both families and their friendships is brilliantly written, and made me reflect on many similar experiences and memories from that period of my life.
It is both a reflection of all things that can be good in Australia, and a cautionary word for things that can easily go wrong.
Full of tragedy, mateship, honour, tradition (including a big Italian wedding), respect, and family ties this is a fantastic read for all those aged 14+ years old.
It is sure to be a favourite for teenage boys finding their way in life.
THE F TEAM
By Rawah Arja
Meet Tariq Nader, leader of ‘The Wolf Pack’ at Punchbowl High, who has been commanded by the new principal to join a football competition with his mates in order to rehabilitate the public image of their school. When the team is formed, Tariq learns there’s a major catch – half of the team is made up of white boys from Cronulla, aka enemy territory – and he must compete with their strongest player for captaincy of the team.
At school Tariq thinks he has life all figured out until he falls for a new girl called Jamila, who challenges everything he thought he knew. At home, his outspoken ways have brought him into conflict with his family. Now, with complications on all fronts, he has to dig deep to control his anger, and find what it takes to be a leader. In confronting and often hilarious situations, Tariq’s relationships with his extended Lebanese family and his friends are tested like never before, and he comes to learn that his choices can have serious consequences.
The F Team is set in Punchbowl, against the background of the impending government closure of the Punchbowl Boys High School.
Tariq, our main character, is the fourth of five children born into a culturally rich Lebanese-Australian family. Tariq and his mates, the Wolf Pack, have more than their share of trouble, both with the authorities and in their own lives.
Enter a tough, Irish-born new principal, who is determined to change his school’s troubled image. He enlists the Wolf Pack to join an upcoming rugby tournament where two schools must combine to form a team. The problem is the rest of their team is made up of students from a school in Cronulla, led by a rich kid who also happens to be their best player.
It seems impossible that they will be able to work together as a team. But Tariq desperately wants to change both his image, and the image of his school, in the hope that it can remain open.
With the help of family and friends, we witness a huge and highly believable transformation.
Filled with humour and authentic Australian characters, The F Team depicts Australia today as it really is – filled with pain, trouble and, ultimately, hope and determination to make the world a better place.
With themes of race and culture, friendship, team building and personal development, this is a great novel suited to readers 14 and older. It will be loved for its honesty by many teenage boys!
REMIND ME WHY I’M HEREBy Kat Colmer
When 18 year-old Maya leaves Chicago for a six week Australian home stay, she assumes she’s heading to beautiful Barangaroo with its famous Sydney Harbour views—NOT Barangaroo Creek, a stinking hot, fly-ridden, wi-fi dead zone hours from a decent body of water. Add her host brother, Gus, who wishes she landed in someone else’s sheep paddock, and Maya is convinced she’s in for six weeks of Hicksville hell.
Gus has an important trip planned this summer— a trip that does NOT include helping an animal-phobic girl from the States tick off items on her seriously clichéd Aussie must-do list. So he comes up with a list of his own—one guaranteed to send Maya back across the Pacific, leaving him free to enjoy the last of his freedom before he heads off to agricultural college like every generation of his family has. But when Maya doesn’t scare that easily, sparks begin to fly.
Soon Gus and Maya discover there are hidden depths to clichéd bucket-lists and secret summer trips, and that sometimes it takes someone half a world away to remind you of all the reasons you’re here.
Poor Maya. When she arrives from Chicago and finds herself in Barangaroo Creek, in the middle of nowhere, rather than the glamorous harbourside Barangaroo in Sydney that she was hoping for her perfect Australian adventure seems doomed.
This trip is supposed to be her chance to tick off the items on her bucket list – cuddling a koala, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and seeing the Opera House. So how is she going to do all this stuck on a sheep farm, with a host brother Gus who clearly does not want her to be there at all?
Gus’ summer has also not gone according to plan. Having Maya on the farm has ruined his summer trip too. But there is far more lurking below the surface for both of our main characters than just a ruined holiday. Can they help each other see what is really going on in their lives, and deal with the burdens that they are both carrying?
This is a wonderful story about acceptance, growth, family responsibility, following your dreams, along with some romance, that will suit all readers 14 and above.
BRASSWITCH AND BOT
By Gareth Ward
Drawn into a world of prejudice, deceit and danger, Wrench must master her powers, knowing they offer her only hope for survival… if they don’t destroy the world first. Screams surge along York’s narrow Victorian streets as a run-away crackle-tram races toward disaster. Fearing an accident like the one that killed her parents, Brasswitch Wrench is forced to reveal her powers – a decision that will change her life forever.
Recruited to the sinister department of Regulators who hunt down others like her, Wrench teams up with their maverick mechanical leader, Bot, as they are tasked with halting the rise of the aberration threat. Until today, being called Brasswitch would have got you killed. Now, it might save your life.
Set in a Victorian-era post industrial revolution world, this is a pacy steampunk novel. Twelve-year-old Wren (aka Wrench) is an apprentice engineer at the steam train works when she is taken by a regulator and tortured. Regulators are those empowered to keep society free of aberrations and witchery.
he is saved by a huge mechanoid named Bot, who is in charge of an elite team of regulators. But being saved really means that she must hone her skills and be the group’s brasswitch. This is a person who can stop, alter, break into or destroy any mechanical object. The real purpose is to save society from the upcoming Rupture that will see all kinds of aberrations, remarkables and old gods enter (and probably destroy) the world. This rupture is due to occur on Wren’s 14th birthday with the alignment of the planets. But this is only a few weeks from now, and many evils stand in the way of victory!
For lovers of steampunk, this is one of the best novels I have read. It contains nothing that would prevent a younger reader from enjoying it, but I believe the real audience is those 11 – 14 years old.
THE GREAT GODDEN
By Meg Rosoff
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer – the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager watches as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding.
Enter the Goddens – irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.
From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale – a summer book that’s as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.
Its summer holiday time, and for one family that’s a tradition that never changes. Beautiful lazy days at the beach, reading, playing games, eating and drinking…
This story is told through the watchful eyes of the daughters, and when two unexpected visitors arrive, brothers Kit and Hugo, their tranquil holiday suddenly comes alive with tension. Everyone loves Kit, whilst Hugo is shy and aloof. Will anyone get through this holiday unscathed?
This is a great coming of age story about falling in love, out of love, and learning a lot about human nature along the way. It’s also a story of family and friends. It is really hard to put this book down as it just flows so beautifully that I read it one sitting. The will definitely most appeal to girls 15 and up.
THE ERASURE INITIATIVE
By Lili Wilkinson
I wake up, and for a few precious seconds I don’t realise there’s anything wrong. The rumble of tyres on bitumen, and the hiss of air conditioning. The murmur of voices. The smell of air freshener. The cool vibration of glass against my forehead.
A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There’s a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom – she’s fighting for her life.
The acclaimed author of After the Lights Go Out returns with another compelling YA thriller – a timely novel about the intensity and unpredictability of human behaviour under pressure.
Imagine waking up on a bus with no memory of even who you are, with six other people who are all in the same boat.
Then the tests start, innocently at first. Simple things, like a fork in the road and you must all vote on which way the bus goes. Then they get more complicated. Like take out one pedestrian or five, five criminals or one innocent person – after you all vote the unlucky get run over and are depixellated.
But the tension increases when they must start voting for each other, and deciding which of them will end up in front of the bus. At first, the bus always stopped inches from the person chosen. But what will happen when it doesn’t?
Our main character Cecily and her friend Nia find out many things along the way, including that this is merely an experiment being carried out by a crazed billionaire to find a way to rehabilitate criminals. But are they all criminals? And this test is not the first one. How many times must they take this test to obtain the desired result?
This is a fantastic psychological thriller with themes of human nature and behaviour, rehabilitation, ethics, justice and working together to achieve results. This is an edge of your seat tale, and is a great read for those 14 years and older.