It is unpleasant to be in the mind of a teenage boy at the best of times but with our narrator Bani Adam in The Lebs it is even harder.
Bani attends Punchbowl High School in Western Sydney. He enjoys his studies and is well liked by the teachers but seems to be the only student who is a not obsessed with crime, head jobs and victimising other racial groups. The violence, continual put downs and profanities in their conversation were unsettling but the conditions in this prison like school, with its controlled entry and barbed wire fences, made it easier to understand the hatred shown by the students of all things white and Australian.
I learned a lot about the Muslim religion that I didn’t know and must admit to feeling more depressed about trying to assimilate these youths into our society than before I read the book. To find out that Punchbowl High is an actual school and that the book comes from an essay written by Michael Mohammed Ahmad published in The Australian about his years in the school ( 1998-2004) made the book even more relevant.
If you read this novel it is worth chasing up the essay on the Internet as the comments it generated from the general public show how far we are from true integration.