Summary - Set in 1980s inner-city Sydney, The Lucky Ones follows maverick teen Tom, as he tries to make sense of life after school. The novel reveals in poignant and hilarious ways the workings of a young male mind – with all its misplaced romanticism, youthful delusions, bewilderment about girls and need for adventure.
But at the heart of the novel is Tom's close friendship with fellow school-leaver Cain, a compelling enigma who becomes increasingly unpredictable as he follows his impulses down a path towards self destruction.
Review - I was very excited to get my hands on this book as I have enjoyed delving into male protagonist's perspectives in YA of late. Interestingly though, this is the first I have read that's been written by a male.
Tom is your average teen boy, fresh from finishing school in 1980s Sydney. Though he may have expected life to change; in leaving high school behind he finds every other element of his life shifting also. Riddle's work is curious, I was involved with the characters but there was a languidness that pervaded every sentence. Tom is a largely reactive character, whether to his mother moving out, his best mate going off the rails or the object of his affection exploring other options. Even when he's reacting, Tom is largely passive. Almost every character has a larger personality than he. Cain, in particular, is the complete antithesis of Tom with his sweeping statements, intelligence and delusional qualities. It's also a personality trait that doesn't serve him particularly well with his friend, Kate who he has less than "friend" feelings for.
The story paddles along nicely. The story is pretty eventful but it still feels like a pretty chilled out narrative. We discussed this over at the Aussie YA Alliance but unfortunately I somehow misplaced/lost the file. We all felt that it had a distinctive memoir feel but having spoken to Tohby, I now know that it's completely fictional. There are a plethora of fascinating characters that flit in and out of the pages, from the fascinating artist Martin, to the mess that was Bob Dylan (yes THAT Bob Dylan) and the bizarre Fenella.
It's an odd little book that I really enjoyed. It felt very atmospheric, very of the time. As Tohby's first foray into YA writing, I think he's made an impression and I very much look forward to his follow up work.
Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 212 pages
Publisher: Penguin Aust.
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Tohby Riddle's Official Website
AYA Interview with Tohby