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Reviewed by Chris Reed
Opening sentence
The Aboriginal youth worker is rambling on about cultural initiations and manhood, but I’m too busy scratching the mozzie bites on my legs to pay attention.
'The Boy from the Mish' was a beautiful celebration of young love and gave an Australian perspective on life. 'We Didn’t Think It Through' has echoes of the original bestseller from Lonesborough. That authentic voice is there, clear and strong. Centering on the main character, Jamie, and his life inside juvie (juvenile detention), giving a raw and brutal exploration of the lives of young Australians and, in particular, young Aboriginals.

Australia is in a different position to Aotearoa New Zealand in terms of their journey. And Lonesborough’s book really captures that tension and the lack of inclusivity in the thinking and the structure of their society. It’s a devastating cycle of oppression and struggle that underpins life for these young indigenous people. Particularly boys. The comparison between this story and the story of many Māori New Zealanders would be a fascinating study in class.

Perhaps above all, it summarises the choices that are made by young people and the issues that can stem from that. Certainly it is easy for young people to see very little in front of what is right there in the moment, but through this kind of narrative there is opportunity for perspective teaching, of repercussions, and the oppressive society that can target people of colour, and indigenous communities. Without doubt this is one of those books that keeps the reader thinking and engaged throughout the entire process.

This is a recommendation less for the structural, linguistic and poetic nature of the writing, and more from the societal, systemic aspects that act a little like a siren to communities locally, and around the world.
Author & Illustrator: Gary Lonesborough
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 978-1760526931
Format: Paperback
Publication: July 2023
Ages: 13+