Eli Bell is 12 years old and in year 7 at Darra State School in Queensland. He has had an unusual and dysfunctional childhood, growing up surrounded by drug users and drug dealers. In fact he considers his only friend and mentor to be a thug named Slim. Eli’s older brother is August or Gus for short. Since the age of 6 Gus hasn’t said a word. But the boys are close and Eli can interpret Gus’s stares, and decipher the words he writes in the air. Together the boys navigate their way through to adulthood trying to avoid the many dangerous pitfalls life throws at them and aim to make it out in one piece.
This book was such a joy to read. Eli is a witty, intelligent and endearing character who has endured a hard life growing up in an environment of drugs and bullying. The characters, including the unsavoury ones, are well crafted and even those that make a small appearance have a fascinating and often humorous back story. Dalton tells a wonderful story made all the richer by his insights into Australian culture and his own experiences. There is so much to like about this this book and there is something for everyone to enjoy.