Hot Best Seller

Boy Swallows Universe (Limited Gift Edition)

Availability: Ready to download

Limited hardback gift edition of the bestselling novel that has taken Australia, and the world, by storm. Winner of the 2019 Indie Book Award. 'Without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a baby Limited hardback gift edition of the bestselling novel that has taken Australia, and the world, by storm. Winner of the 2019 Indie Book Award. 'Without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum. A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year - an instant Australian classic. Winner of the Debut of the Year and Book of the Year, 2019 Indie Book Awards; winner of the 2019 MUD Literary Prize; shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards; longlisted for the 2019 ABIA Awards. 'Marvelously plot-rich ... filled with beautifully lyric prose ... the characterization, too, is universally memorable, especially that of Eli and August. At one point Eli wonders if he is good. The answer is "yes," every bit as good as this exceptional novel.' Booklist 'Trent Dalton is the most extraordinary writer - a rare talent. A major new voice on the Australian literary scene has arrived.' Nikki Gemmell 'An astonishing achievement. Dalton is a breath of fresh air - raw, honest, funny, moving, he has created a novel of the most surprising and addictive nature. Unputdownable.' David Wenham 'I couldn't stop reading from the moment I started, and I still can barely speak for the beauty of it. Trent Dalton has done something very special here, writing with grace, from his own broken heart.' Caroline Overington 'Stunning. My favourite novel for decades. Left me devastated but looking to the heavens.' Tim Rogers 'One of the best Australian novels I've ever read' The Guardian


Compare

Limited hardback gift edition of the bestselling novel that has taken Australia, and the world, by storm. Winner of the 2019 Indie Book Award. 'Without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a baby Limited hardback gift edition of the bestselling novel that has taken Australia, and the world, by storm. Winner of the 2019 Indie Book Award. 'Without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade' Sydney Morning Herald Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It's not as if Eli's life isn't complicated enough already. He's just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way - not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But Eli's life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He's about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum. A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novel you will read all year - an instant Australian classic. Winner of the Debut of the Year and Book of the Year, 2019 Indie Book Awards; winner of the 2019 MUD Literary Prize; shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards; longlisted for the 2019 ABIA Awards. 'Marvelously plot-rich ... filled with beautifully lyric prose ... the characterization, too, is universally memorable, especially that of Eli and August. At one point Eli wonders if he is good. The answer is "yes," every bit as good as this exceptional novel.' Booklist 'Trent Dalton is the most extraordinary writer - a rare talent. A major new voice on the Australian literary scene has arrived.' Nikki Gemmell 'An astonishing achievement. Dalton is a breath of fresh air - raw, honest, funny, moving, he has created a novel of the most surprising and addictive nature. Unputdownable.' David Wenham 'I couldn't stop reading from the moment I started, and I still can barely speak for the beauty of it. Trent Dalton has done something very special here, writing with grace, from his own broken heart.' Caroline Overington 'Stunning. My favourite novel for decades. Left me devastated but looking to the heavens.' Tim Rogers 'One of the best Australian novels I've ever read' The Guardian

30 review for Boy Swallows Universe (Limited Gift Edition)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    What an amazing debut novel! Boy Swallows Universe has jumped straight to the top of my outstanding novels for this year. Trent Dalton has somehow managed to spin a yarn about a Brisbane boy growing up amidst poverty, violence and crime while infusing it with love, joy and humour. His words and characters leap off the page with freshness and originality and yet you feel you know these people and the streets they live on. Although not autobiographical, the novel is based on Dalton’s own childhood What an amazing debut novel! Boy Swallows Universe has jumped straight to the top of my outstanding novels for this year. Trent Dalton has somehow managed to spin a yarn about a Brisbane boy growing up amidst poverty, violence and crime while infusing it with love, joy and humour. His words and characters leap off the page with freshness and originality and yet you feel you know these people and the streets they live on. Although not autobiographical, the novel is based on Dalton’s own childhood and experiences in the tough suburbs of Brisbane, his parents, the people he knew and the journey he took to become an award winning journalist. It’s the 1980s and 12 y old Eli Bell lives with his Mum Frances and stepdad Lyle in the Brisbane suburbs. He seemingly has a normal Aussie childhood, tearing off on his bike, playing in the streets and worshipping the Parramatta Eels. Except for the fact that his older brother Gus no longer speaks following a traumatic event, his parents are drug dealers and his baby sitter is a notorious ex-crim called Slim (based on a real life character also known as the Houdini of Boggo Road). That all changes when Lyle disappears after being caught doing a bit of extracurricular dealing, Eli’s Mum is sent away and Eli and Gus have no choice but to go and live with their depressed, drunken father. Despite all the violence and crime around him, Eli wants to grow up to be a good person and become a journalist providing he can navigate his way through warring street gangs and heroin dealers, somehow survive school and find a job. His love for his mother, stepfather Lyle, his father and brothers shines out. Dalton’s story is engaging and compelling, beautifully written and peopled with fully fleshed characters with an ending that will have you cheering for Eli (view spoiler)[ as he gets a chance to take on the drug lords (hide spoiler)] . I should also say how much I love the cover with that colour and energy bursting outwards (just like the novel). The little bluebird in the centre has a significant meaning for Eli and the three word title (and chapter headings) reflect advice given to Eli when he meets his future news editor (that a story should be able to be summed up in three words). Highly recommended - a novel that is full of life and love and will surely win a lot of literary awards. With thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia for a digital copy of this book

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kylie D

    Well, what can I say, but Trent Dalton, you have left me speechless! I've had Boy Swallows Universe on my shelf for several months now, not wanting to pick it up, afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype. It lives up to it, and more! It's the coming of age tale of Eli, growing up in Brisbane's western suburbs, raised by drug dealers. We follow Eli and his brother August, through all the bad things life could throw at them, yet there are a lot of positives in their lives too. Living in Brisbane I'm Well, what can I say, but Trent Dalton, you have left me speechless! I've had Boy Swallows Universe on my shelf for several months now, not wanting to pick it up, afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype. It lives up to it, and more! It's the coming of age tale of Eli, growing up in Brisbane's western suburbs, raised by drug dealers. We follow Eli and his brother August, through all the bad things life could throw at them, yet there are a lot of positives in their lives too. Living in Brisbane I'm familiar with many of the locations in this book, and knowing that it is semi-autobiographical, it really comes to life. Totally absorbing, I lost a day reading this book! This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It is simply magnificent. Thankyou Trent Dalton!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    “The key characters all draw on the people I love most in the world. The most beautiful and complex people I’ve ever known, and I never even had to walk out the door of my house to find them. I just wanted to give the world a story. To turn all these crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.” (Trent Dalton from an article by Dalton on why her wrote this book: https://www.harpercollins.com.au/blog... ). I read the above article after I “The key characters all draw on the people I love most in the world. The most beautiful and complex people I’ve ever known, and I never even had to walk out the door of my house to find them. I just wanted to give the world a story. To turn all these crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.” (Trent Dalton from an article by Dalton on why her wrote this book: https://www.harpercollins.com.au/blog... ). I read the above article after I finished this book and read the author’s note about how much of this novel is based on his childhood experiences and the story became so much more meaningful . Knowing this made me love these characters even more, and in spite of a few reservations, Trent Dalton has absolutely turned “ all these crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.” I have to admit that there were times when some of the things that happened here just didn’t feel realistic and some things towards the end felt over the top. Maybe it was because I couldn’t be any more removed from this world of drug dealers in this Brisbane suburb where these boys are raised. Yet, there is so much that l did love about this book and these characters that I couldn’t help but care about. There is a truth to how much love this story emanates. The silent understanding between Eli and his brother Gus, the friendship between Eli and Slim, the real Arthur Slim Holliday, a criminal and jail breaker, Eli’s unconditional love for his mother and her boyfriend Lyle, in spite of the sordid and dangerous life of drug dealing that the boys are in the middle of - these are the things that make this such a beautiful story. Dalton is an award winning Australian journalist, whom I had never heard of until now. This is his first novel and he is definitely on my radar now, with my hopes that he will write another . I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    5★+ “Lyle says he approaches a drug deal in the same way he approaches Mum when she’s in a bad mood. Stay on your toes. Stay alert. Don’t let them stand too close to the kitchen knives. Be flexible, patient, adaptable. The buyer/angry Mum is always right.” Oliver Twist meets The Godfather. Those were the first books that came to mind. Films and TV that came to mind were Breaking Bad, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Sopranos, and possibly a bit of Stephen King. But it’s 100% Trent Dalton, and what 5★+ “Lyle says he approaches a drug deal in the same way he approaches Mum when she’s in a bad mood. Stay on your toes. Stay alert. Don’t let them stand too close to the kitchen knives. Be flexible, patient, adaptable. The buyer/angry Mum is always right.” Oliver Twist meets The Godfather. Those were the first books that came to mind. Films and TV that came to mind were Breaking Bad, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Sopranos, and possibly a bit of Stephen King. But it’s 100% Trent Dalton, and what an absolute legend he is! This is bound to be at the top of my favourites list for a long time. “Nothing connects a city quite like South-East Asian heroin.” This is based on his life, his upbringing, his alcoholic dad, drug-affected mother and drug-dealer boyfriend ("Lyle" of the opening quotation), and the whole violent, vicious drug scene where he grew up near Brisbane with three brothers. The book, however, has only Eli telling the story and he has only one brother. This is a novel, not a memoir, although if you listen to the author's interviews, you could be excused for thinking it is, and I'm scared to think how many of these life-threatening experiences may have been his! Eli Bell is 12, one year younger than August “Gus” Bell, who doesn’t speak. We learn about the harrowing near-drowning that triggered that, and as for the rest, I really don’t know where to start. It is a fabulous coming-of-age story like no other than I can think of. Trent Dalton is already an acclaimed feature writer and journalist* (see below), but this is way beyond that. He lets the character of Slim Halliday (who was a real-life convicted criminal) teach young Eli how to deal with whatever life throws at you. I know him only as the character in the book, although Dalton knew him in real life. In the book, he was known for having survived Black Peter, the name for the solitary confinement most prisons call the hole. “Slim says half of his Boggo Road prison mates would have died after a week in Black Peter because half of any prison population, and any major city of the world for that matter, is filled with adult men with child minds. But an adult mind can take an adult man anywhere he wants to go. . . . ‘I could do things with time in there,’ Slim says. ‘I got so intimate with time that I could manipulate it, speed it up, slow it down. Some days all you wanted was to speed it up, so you had to trick your brain.’” He would take himself fishing, mentally, catch fish, clean them, cook them, roll a smoke, watch the sunset and pass the time so busily he was surprised to see the end of the day. But, when he had an hour in the sun in the exercise yard, he learned how to slow down time and stretch it out to feel like several hours. What a great skill. Another trick he had made me think instantly of The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly about memory systems in civilisations around the world. “Slim says a good way for me to remember the small details of my life is to associate moments and visions with things on my person or things in my regular waking life that I see and smell and touch often. Body things, bedroom things, kitchen things. This way I will have two reminders of any given detail for the price of one.” Slim would choose marks and scars and spots on his body as his memory points the way we might collect souvenirs to remind us of something or the Australian Aboriginal memory code actually stores memories in places and trees and landscape. “He’d thumb the peaks and valleys of his knuckles and they wold take him there, to the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, take him all the way to Springbrook Falls, and the cold steel prison bed frame of cell D9 would become a water-worn limestone rock and the prison hole’s cold concrete floor beneath his bare feet summer-warm water to dip his toes into . . .” Dalton can write the longest sentences, and they are always just the right length for me. His timing is great, his characters are wonderful and terrifying and the story is warm, and scary and thrilling and believable. Eli adores his parents and his mum’s boyfriend and his “best friend” Slim. He is basically a good kid, but he does get up to more than innocent childhood mischief, and no wonder. We meet all of these people, not the least of whom is his mute brother Gus who writes in the air with his finger, which Eli reads easily, even backwards sometimes. Gus likes to indicate he sees the future – we’re not so sure, but something is going on there. The chapters begin with three-word titles - “Boy Writes Words” and “Boy Loses Luck” and “Boy Parts Sea” – the kind of three-word summary an editor he eventually works for demands a writer use to describe a story. The drug lords, the heavies with knives and machetes, the really, really, REALLY scary dudes – these are all part and parcel of growing up for young Eli Bell. And apparently, a lot of it, including the seeing Mum in prison on Christmas Day were all part of life for young Trent Dalton. I’m so glad he discovered that he was a boy who could write words, and not just in the air. Beautifully written. Memorable characters, places you can see and smell, and that sense of time and space you had when you were a kid. They’re all here. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted. I haven’t begun to do this justice. Listen to the author here. He comes across as irrepressibly cheerful and enthusiastic. What a life! What a story! Here you can read about the real life red telephone and why it existed. https://authorlink.com/interview/aust... And here's an excellent podcast - or you can listen online http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/... or here https://www.betterreading.com.au/podc... *“Podcast guest: Trent Dalton Trent Dalton is a staff writer for The Weekend Australian Magazine and former assistant editor of The Courier Mail. He’s a two-time winner of a Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism, a three-time winner of a Kennedy Award for Excellence in NSW Journalism and a four-time winner of the national News Awards Features Journalist of the Year.” Photograph of Trent Dalton at the Better Reading podcast

  5. 4 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks

    Boy Swallows Universe is a coming of age story like no other. Dalton's beautiful prose, compelling characters and emotionally tragic story was tinged with mystical elements that gave the book an almost otherworldly feel. Eli and August are brothers being raised amongst drugs, violence and poverty. Yet amidst all these dangers these boys have such a special bond and connection, helping each other through heartache and tragedy. Eli is the story's central character and his life is anything but easy. Boy Swallows Universe is a coming of age story like no other. Dalton's beautiful prose, compelling characters and emotionally tragic story was tinged with mystical elements that gave the book an almost otherworldly feel. Eli and August are brothers being raised amongst drugs, violence and poverty. Yet amidst all these dangers these boys have such a special bond and connection, helping each other through heartache and tragedy. Eli is the story's central character and his life is anything but easy. His older brother August is a selective mute, his mother and her boyfriend are drug dealers, his babysitter is a notorious ex-criminal and his drunken father is non-existent in his life. Despite all the violence and wrongdoing around him, Eli has big aspirations for himself to become a journalist and above all be a good person. The characters in this story were wonderful, probably because they were loosely based on people in Dalton's childhood. You can tell he fleshed them out from the heart. They were vivid, engaging and integral to the storyline. Eli and August completely stole my heart - what amazing boys! Their sense of family and their desire to do something good was so strong. You can't help but to root for them to finally have the kind of life they so desperately desire. Thank you to Trent Dalton, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    I had to push myself to finish this novel. This much-lauded, hyped novel. I even went to see the author speak to a packed room at the Perth Writers' Festival, so I was somewhat invested. I won't go into too many details about the plot. Boy Swallows Universe is a coming of age novel, about Eli Bell, who is brought up in a rough part of Brisbane, by his drug peddling and occasional user mum, and her boyfriend, Lyle. This novel has a very distinct Australian feel to it, it almost feels put on, althou I had to push myself to finish this novel. This much-lauded, hyped novel. I even went to see the author speak to a packed room at the Perth Writers' Festival, so I was somewhat invested. I won't go into too many details about the plot. Boy Swallows Universe is a coming of age novel, about Eli Bell, who is brought up in a rough part of Brisbane, by his drug peddling and occasional user mum, and her boyfriend, Lyle. This novel has a very distinct Australian feel to it, it almost feels put on, although people in the know say it's pretty accurate for 1990s Queensland. Boy Swallows Universe is filled with characters from the wrong side of the tracks, people, most of us have never come across. Among all these people, the brothers Bell, Eli and his elder sibling, Gus, try to survive the best way they can. Their mum is not the most stable person, although she loves them. Their father is an alcoholic agoraphobe who suffers from anxiety and depression. In my view, this novel is quite obviously a debut, as it's self-conscious while trying to be cruisy and quirky. There are some good writing passages and quite a few interesting things fill this overly long novel. But they are vignettes, many times, they stand alone, as we move onto the next chapter quite abruptly. Eli and his brother are charming characters, albeit too saintly. There are many aspects of the novel that are exaggerated and some were outright incredulous, which doesn't really work for me. So, in conclusion, this was not bad, but I never felt completely invested, charmed or horrified. This will go straight onto my virtual shelf of Australian coming-of-age novels that everyone but me loves. This counts towards my Aussie Author Challenge 2019 on http://bookloverbookreviews.com/readi...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    Eli is growing up in a small Australian suburb in the 1980s. His mother is a junkie and in jail, his father is nowhere to be found, his stepfather is a drug dealer, and his older brother, August, is a mute genius. The only adult in his life is Slim, a former prisoner who holds the record for the most escapes. "I truly love Slim because he truly loves August and me. Slim was hard and cold in his youth. He's softened with age. Slim always cares for August and me and how we're going and how we're go Eli is growing up in a small Australian suburb in the 1980s. His mother is a junkie and in jail, his father is nowhere to be found, his stepfather is a drug dealer, and his older brother, August, is a mute genius. The only adult in his life is Slim, a former prisoner who holds the record for the most escapes. "I truly love Slim because he truly loves August and me. Slim was hard and cold in his youth. He's softened with age. Slim always cares for August and me and how we're going and how we're going to grow up. I love him so much for trying to convince us that when Mum and Lyle are out for so long like this they are at the movies and not, in fact, dealing heroin purchased from Vietnamese restaurateurs." For a 12-year-old, Eli has the mind and heart of an adult. Even though his life is completely chaotic, he craves normalcy—as much as he can get given the situation he's in. He wants to be a journalist, he wants to fall in love, and he wants to be a good man, better than those he's had in his life. Life keeps getting in Eli's way. It's up to him to care for his brother and to battle a truly dangerous drug dealer, and then work to save his mum. Through it all, Eli sees that there are two paths to follow—the right and the wrong—and although the wrong may be the easier one to follow, he knows he'll never recover if he takes that path. What's fascinating and eye-opening about Boy Swallows Universe is that Trent Dalton based it on his own childhood and his relationship with his mother. Even though I know people find themselves in really dangerous, sad situations, it's still a bit of a gut punch to realize how closely this crazy story mirrors real life. I didn't know that going into reading this book, so it gave it a dash of added poignancy upon reflection. I found the characters and their relationships really endearing, but the narrative style of this book put me off. Part of it was the Australian dialect the characters used, and part was the truncated way some of the dialogue flowed. There were times I had to re-read some paragraphs just to be sure I knew what was happening, so that kept me feeling not quite connected. There is a tremendous amount of heart and charm in Boy Swallows Universe , and some very memorable characters. I know that many people enjoyed this book more than I did, so if it sounds intriguing, definitely give it a shot. It's a thought-provoking, heart-warming, and disturbing story. NetGalley and HarperCollins provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    At first, this sounded like another harmful story about the exploitation of a minor by an adult, but I was repeatedly told that this is not the case with this book. On the other hand, people keep finding excuses to defend these so-called romances. I have seen it so many times in so many books. And I am so tired of it. So I will read this book and hope it won't disappoint. At first, this sounded like another harmful story about the exploitation of a minor by an adult, but I was repeatedly told that this is not the case with this book. On the other hand, people keep finding excuses to defend these so-called romances. I have seen it so many times in so many books. And I am so tired of it. So I will read this book and hope it won't disappoint.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Why I wrote ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ About three summers ago on a blazing hot Boxing Day in South-east Queensland I was standing at the back of a small blue Holden Barina with my mum. The boot hatchback door was up and I was helping my mum load a bunch of Christmas gifts and cooking equipment into her car. We’d all just enjoyed a good family catch-up in a shared Bribie Island holiday unit, one of those nice peaceful Christmases where nobody argues about who was supposed to make the coleslaw, an Why I wrote ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ About three summers ago on a blazing hot Boxing Day in South-east Queensland I was standing at the back of a small blue Holden Barina with my mum. The boot hatchback door was up and I was helping my mum load a bunch of Christmas gifts and cooking equipment into her car. We’d all just enjoyed a good family catch-up in a shared Bribie Island holiday unit, one of those nice peaceful Christmases where nobody argues about who was supposed to make the coleslaw, and my mum was distracted for a moment by my daughter – she must have been about seven then – doing one of her impromptu interpretive dances through an avenue of coastal paperbark trees. I followed her eyes and was, naturally, also quickly ensnared in this vision… my girl’s hair blowing in the wind, her bare feet making ballet leaps between those trees, a stick in her hand acting as a wand… Then out of nowhere and for no apparent reason – not moving her eyes for a second away from my daughter – Mum said something beautiful. ‘I wouldn’t change any of it,’ Mum said. It sounds cheesy, I know, but that’s what she said. ‘I wouldn’t change any of it. If I had to go through it all again to get to this, I would do it. I wouldn’t change any of it.’ https://www.harpercollins.com.au/blog... It’s a blend of autobiography and fiction with a little magical realism and some severed body parts. The title is from a story in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna’s mother sees the universe in her child. As Dalton says in the Harper Collins blog, “Love, above all else, is threaded through this novel. I wanted to write about how it is possible to love someone who has killed. How it is possible to love someone who has hurt you deeply. How love is the closest thing we have to the truly profound.” Sure, It's tragic and sad, but it’s also beautiful and funny. I missed it after I finished. ‘That’s some prize parenting right there, my friend, bringing your kids to a drug deal.’ ******************************************* https://www.harpercollins.com.au/blog... https://newtownreviewofbooks.com.au/t... https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/bo...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    So many good things about this book!!! * The totally perfect cover. Not only the gorgeous colours but also its appropriateness to the story. * The writing. Trent Dalton is a master of beautiful prose. * The characters. I loved Eli and Gus and their solid and completely understanding relationship. * The story itself which was horrific and mystical by turns and always totally absorbing. * The ending which although a little far fetched was also satisfying. For me it was slightly spoilt by too much inform So many good things about this book!!! * The totally perfect cover. Not only the gorgeous colours but also its appropriateness to the story. * The writing. Trent Dalton is a master of beautiful prose. * The characters. I loved Eli and Gus and their solid and completely understanding relationship. * The story itself which was horrific and mystical by turns and always totally absorbing. * The ending which although a little far fetched was also satisfying. For me it was slightly spoilt by too much information about drug dealing and the unnecessary overuse of two words which do not need to appear so frequently in a well written book. So not quite the full five stars. A memorable book though!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    Pleased to announce that this is the #scaredsuspensebookclub choice for April! Below is the discussion schedule via instagram; follow along and join in with the conversation @scaredsuspensebookclub. Check-In #1: April 12th Check-In #2: April 19th *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    OKAY. You got me. I was really excited to read this hyped book, but when I read the first few pages I was devastated. I was convinced it wasn't going to be my kind of book at all - it was such a drain to follow what was being said. The disappointment was real. I put it down after seven pages and it's taken me another three months or so to get back to it. Now, here I am to confess: I was wrong. I smashed through it in two days. Straight up? The writing style is absolutely not my thing at all. It's cr OKAY. You got me. I was really excited to read this hyped book, but when I read the first few pages I was devastated. I was convinced it wasn't going to be my kind of book at all - it was such a drain to follow what was being said. The disappointment was real. I put it down after seven pages and it's taken me another three months or so to get back to it. Now, here I am to confess: I was wrong. I smashed through it in two days. Straight up? The writing style is absolutely not my thing at all. It's creative and poetic and lyrical and it works hard at symbolism and telling things in convoluted ways and making clever veiled references to things you know are gonna crop up later. I hate that. I'm a straight shooter, and I kinda prefer my books that way, too. But the story, man, the story , was absolutely fascinating. It was a train wreck I couldn't look away from. I mean, I just had no fking CLUE what was going down here. There are some familiar moments here but overall this is an enthralling tale set in QLD suburbia and once it had a grip on me I was done for. It was a little slow to warm up and I was feeling resentful of having to read it for the first 50 pages or so but it didn't take much more than that for me to become invested. The telephone stuff was a bit wacky for me (that symbolism stuff again) and it seemed a really strange story to fit that angle into, but on the whole I really enjoyed what seemed to me a smudge of colour in a charcoal picture. There are other stories about drug dealers and rival gangs etc etc but Eli made this one stand out way above the rest. I didn't think it was going to be for me, but boy was I wrong. What a fantastic read. This was book 16 of my #dymocks52challenge refined. You can read more here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    For a book with so much violence, drug dealing, prison life, and sadness, it was also magical. The story concerns the life of Eli and Gus, brothers who are deemed special by their mother and others that know them. Gus is mute but can communicate with Eli by writing words in the air or by not saying anything at all. Gus's talents lie in art, in his paintings. Eli's talents lie in words, written and spoken, colorful and detailed stories that go past mere facts and tell everything about everybody. For a book with so much violence, drug dealing, prison life, and sadness, it was also magical. The story concerns the life of Eli and Gus, brothers who are deemed special by their mother and others that know them. Gus is mute but can communicate with Eli by writing words in the air or by not saying anything at all. Gus's talents lie in art, in his paintings. Eli's talents lie in words, written and spoken, colorful and detailed stories that go past mere facts and tell everything about everybody. Eli and Gus's parents have been apart since they were young and they haven't seen their father since their mother left him. Now their mother is living with a man who Eli considers the first man he ever loved. Their mother and her boyfriend are drug dealers and dealing destroys this little family and breaks them apart, something that hurts Eli so much that he's filled with anger and hate and doesn't know what to do with it. The book is hard to explain. It's filled with so many words, Eli's words, that at first I had a hard time taking them all in but once I got used to Eli's words and those of his friend Slim, who mentored Eli on how to use time, to slow things down and speed things up, and how to get through hard times by remembering details of the good times, I loved to read Eli's thoughts and worries and plans for the future. Another thing I liked about the book is the background we learn about the author and his writing of the story, that is at the end of the book. And there is this article where the author tells why he wrote the book that just adds more to the entire story: https://www.harpercollins.com.au/blog... I wanted to read more about Eli, Gus, and their parents once the story was done. I didn't want for the story to end because I know they went on to good things and I wanted to be there for them. Thank you to Harper/HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this ARC.

  14. 5 out of 5

    fourtriplezed

    Kylie Minogue, Joseph Conrad, the fascist state that was Queensland and how I came to realise that the star rating system may not be appropriate for this book. Part three. A great Brisbane Novel? Maybe but again the rating of stars seems a bit pointless as this being a book about my home town, and the third Brisbane novel I have read in recent times, I have now given all three the maximum rating. The reality is that that is my rating because I related to them for obvious reasons. Many may not. Th Kylie Minogue, Joseph Conrad, the fascist state that was Queensland and how I came to realise that the star rating system may not be appropriate for this book. Part three. A great Brisbane Novel? Maybe but again the rating of stars seems a bit pointless as this being a book about my home town, and the third Brisbane novel I have read in recent times, I have now given all three the maximum rating. The reality is that that is my rating because I related to them for obvious reasons. Many may not. The reality is that the only one that really rates that maximum rating is Andrew McGahan Praise. There is a realistic grittiness in that book that rings true. Boy Swallows Universe is more witty magical realism. Author Trent Dalton has written a strangely seductive amalgam of family history, fantasy and observation of his childhood that was Brisbane in the 1980’s when this terrific novel takes place. Eli is his youthful narrator of this book and Eli observes with a sharp wit, an almost humble self-depreciating attitude as to what goes on around him and what events occur in his young life. There is a lot of emotion written in this book from the very witty that is obviously witty to the very sad that is obviously very sad and that is always going to suck any reader from anywhere if the writing appeals. The Brisbane and various cultural references of the times come think and fast, hence the appeal to me. One example is Ribbetts, a takaway food place that gets a mention in this book. It still does exist and is across the road from what did exist but no longer does and that is Boggo Road Jail. Google maps is your friend when reading this book. There are name drops galore that the average Brisbane resident would and should relate to. My home suburb gets a mention with both Moorooka and its Magic Mile of Motors. That great Brisbane muso Ed Kuepper had an album called This is The Magic Mile in tribute. Tragically a sign heralding your entrance into this magic mile was consumed in a fire a few years back. A cultural tragedy up there with the demolition of the Buddas of Bamyan and the Bellvue Hotel. As with all these style of books the wit can be rather infectious. Eli and his family have to go to a Vietnamese restaurant near the Darra train station for business dealings. The owner, Eli observes, has an opinion as to why Australians wallow in inherent misery. Their childhood is so “idyllic and joyous” with the beach, backyard cricket and never ending sunshine that anything beyond that can never match. Hence “junk cures all misery”. This was true then and is now. My generation, the baby boomers, booze ourselves with both legal and illegal drug and self-pity is rife. When some 18 year old minimum wage earner in a bar fails to deliver our drink at the speed of light we will let them know very loudly and collectively with a growl in our voices. We are filthy rich by any standards, are superannuated up to our ears, receive tax credits back from the poorer PAYE taxpayer for our 1.9 million dollar fully franked dividends received and have the government of our choice. But we are not happy and by cripes we will shout about that from the ultra-rich media owned exclusively by our generation. Oh yes and I drove past the Darra train station not long ago and there is still a Vietnamese restaurant. Firstly Kylie gets no mention in this book. Much to my surprise Joseph Conrad did. It is indeed wonderful to know that through heartfelt generosity many a Saturday afternoon drunk at the Bracken Ridge Tavern is not only looking for a bet on the horses but is discussing the “psychological resonance of Heart Of Darkness.” This and The Delinquents? What is it with the Queensland’s lower socio economic group and their need to read Conrad? The fascist state that was Qld existed in this book. This is seemingly a theme for some writers of the street when it comes to the deep north. Hard to steer away from that past in reality. It is part of the historical narrative. There maybe a lot of love in this book but also a lot of Queensland’s dark past. Strangely good fun to read and recommended to Brisbaneites from both sides of the river. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Boy Swallows Universe is the big buzz in Australian books right now. It’s going to sell itself, as all of the pull quotes and window displays tell us. First it’s about one thing, then it’s about another, then you turn the page and years have passed, but one thing is certain: Boy Swallows Universe is an Australian novel that is at least in part about children who have to fend for themselves in the face of their parental figures’ involvement in drugs. We certainly haven’t published one of those be Boy Swallows Universe is the big buzz in Australian books right now. It’s going to sell itself, as all of the pull quotes and window displays tell us. First it’s about one thing, then it’s about another, then you turn the page and years have passed, but one thing is certain: Boy Swallows Universe is an Australian novel that is at least in part about children who have to fend for themselves in the face of their parental figures’ involvement in drugs. We certainly haven’t published one of those before. Cynical though that sounds, Boy Swallows Universe isn’t bad, it just isn’t up to much and is up to too much all at once. Boy Swallows Universe is impossible to blurb, but HarperCollins has tried. Eli Bell lives in the suburban Brisbane of the eighties with his mute brother August, his recovering drug addict mother, and her heroin dealer boyfriend Lyle. Periodically Eli is babysat by the real life prison escape artist Arthur “Slim” Halliday, and from him he learns about moral ambiguity. Boy Swallows Universe isn’t about anything in particular; the moment you think it has a through line, debut author (long time columnist for The Australian) Trent Dalton throws one time jump at you, and then another. Sagas, epics, and coming of age stories can cover a span of years, but Boy Swallows Universe doesn’t use them well. At times it feels like Dalton is ageing up his lead so that he can justify reciprocal interest from Caitlyn Spies, a journalist a good eight years older than his humble protagonist. Rather than having an elasticity in its length, Boy Swallows Universe sags. Dalton opens with mysticism, and has an inconsistent approach to maintaining it. Gritty realism combines with soothsaying and takes a detour into a ridiculous portrait of the nativity at a women’s prison, and no single tone is ever struck. If it weren’t for its sudden paucity of events, Boy Swallows Universe would be exhausting. The drugs and the family drama provide a veneer of profundity that Dalton can’t quite cash in, but they’ll win over a lot of readers regardless. Boy Swallows Universe is messy, but there’s just enough suburban ennui mixed with improbable adventure to capture what Australian readers seem to want want outside of their straight up crime novels or quirky romantic comedies. There’s definitely an audience for Boy Swallows Universe, but it is perhaps not quite so deserving of the huge publisher push it has received. It’s no Drippy Pigeon , that much is clear.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    To say I was excited to discover a novel by Trent Dalton is a massive understatement.   Boy Swallows Universe is his debut novel but I've adored the authors writing for years.  He's an award winning journalist and I cannot get enough of the way he tells a story, the compassion in his words and the way I feel I know the people he writes about.     And so it was with the characters he brought to life in this novel.      Eli Bell our protagonist is a young boy in Brisbane in the early 80's.  His ol To say I was excited to discover a novel by Trent Dalton is a massive understatement.   Boy Swallows Universe is his debut novel but I've adored the authors writing for years.  He's an award winning journalist and I cannot get enough of the way he tells a story, the compassion in his words and the way I feel I know the people he writes about.     And so it was with the characters he brought to life in this novel.      Eli Bell our protagonist is a young boy in Brisbane in the early 80's.  His older brother Gus has been mute since age six but has what Eli believes to be special powers.      His mother loves her sons desperately but it's fair to say she and her partner Lyle run with a bad crowd and make some questionable decisions.     They wanted a better life for the boys so started dealing heroin and have now made enemies of some dangerous people.     Eli's best friend is a notorious ex-criminal who had served time for murder; he's pen pals with a convicted sergeant-at-arms of an outlaw motorcycle gang.  He's exposed to things no boy  should be, and yet, amongst the crime, the coarse language (f-bombs and c-bombs galore), the violence (domestic and otherwise) there is love, there is learning, and believe it or not there is goodness.      Sure I questioned whether some elements were plausible but, to be frank, I didn't really care and just got swept away in the story.    I found this to be a book of contrasts and contradictions.   Dalton delivered some supposedly good guys who were evil and vice versa.   He expertly blended fact with fiction.   He wove elements of fantasy into the harsh reality of this story and somehow managed to transport me to a time and place which was incredibly familiar to me whilst simultaneously completely foreign to me.    It was a unique story and one I thoroughly enjoyed it.  My thanks and congratulations to Trent Dalton for his wonderful words.  Thanks also to HarperCollins Publishers Australia and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Extraordinary coming of age story that stole my heart! ❤ Eli is 12 years old when we meet him for the first time. He has an older brother August who doesn't speak and communicates by drawing words in the air. Eli and Gus live with their mum and her partner who both deal drugs. Eli and Gus spent most of their time with their babysitter Slim Halliday, a convicted murderer who escaped from prison. Sounds pretty crazy, right? What makes it even more crazy is the fact that the story is inspired by the Extraordinary coming of age story that stole my heart! ❤ Eli is 12 years old when we meet him for the first time. He has an older brother August who doesn't speak and communicates by drawing words in the air. Eli and Gus live with their mum and her partner who both deal drugs. Eli and Gus spent most of their time with their babysitter Slim Halliday, a convicted murderer who escaped from prison. Sounds pretty crazy, right? What makes it even more crazy is the fact that the story is inspired by the author's own childhood and his memory of Slim Halliday who is a real person and was called Houdini of Brisbane after escaping from prison. Slim Halliday was the author's family friend in real life.  Despite the rough conditions of the suburban Brisbane Eli Bell is growing up in, he is trying to follow his heart and is desperate to become a 'good man'. When the notorious drug dealer Tytus Broz unexpectedly barks into Eli's house one evening, Eli's life is turned upside down once more. Eli's stepfather disappears, Eli's mum ends up in prison and Eli himself loses a finger that is cut off by Broz' man. I wasn't sure if I liked the book at first as there were no introductions and the reader is thrown into this slightly strange story. But the more I read about Eli and his brother Gus, the more I loved it. Eli Bell is a very special  and memorable character, whose coming of age story will make you laugh and it might make you cry. Having recently visited Brisbane, I enjoyed recognising some of the locations mentioned in the book, even if a lot must have changed since the 80's when this book is set. Boy Swallows Universe is different from anything I read and it was a welcomed breath of fresh air in my reading routine.  Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Twelve year old Eli Bell has had a rough life, his mother is a drug addict and in jail, his father can’t be found and his stepfather is a drug dealer and he has a mute brother. Eli’s home life isn’t great to say the least, but he is doing the best he can to grow into a respectable young man, but it seems the odds are against him. Being surrounded by violence, drugs and crime on a daily basis, Eli’s future is looking somewhat bleak. Can Eli make a safer life for himself and turn his life around a Twelve year old Eli Bell has had a rough life, his mother is a drug addict and in jail, his father can’t be found and his stepfather is a drug dealer and he has a mute brother. Eli’s home life isn’t great to say the least, but he is doing the best he can to grow into a respectable young man, but it seems the odds are against him. Being surrounded by violence, drugs and crime on a daily basis, Eli’s future is looking somewhat bleak. Can Eli make a safer life for himself and turn his life around and become the person he dreams of being or will he too get caught up in drugs and violence the world he is familiar with. Boy Swallows Universe is a well written story by Aussie author Trent Dalton. This story will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride that’s for certain. It’s a heartwarming story, but parts of it are rather disturbing. I found it hard getting into this book at first, but I continued on and I’m glad I did as I really did enjoy it. But a warning for readers who don’t like profanities in their books as there are quite a few throughout this book. And lastly, I must make mention on the beautiful, colorful and very eye catching cover. I have no doubt this book has been loved by many and will continue to be read and enjoyed by many more readers. Highly recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 ABIA LITERARY FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 4.5 Stars. The highest praise I can give this novel is that at times I thought it was written by one of my very favourite authors, Tim Winton. Three Quarters of the way through this book I was ready to declare this my favourite read of the year. It has this great Winton feel to it. It has that great Aussie style of language and slang. It has characters to die for. Slim, feels like a Winton creation. The only gripe I have with the novel LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 ABIA LITERARY FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 4.5 Stars. The highest praise I can give this novel is that at times I thought it was written by one of my very favourite authors, Tim Winton. Three Quarters of the way through this book I was ready to declare this my favourite read of the year. It has this great Winton feel to it. It has that great Aussie style of language and slang. It has characters to die for. Slim, feels like a Winton creation. The only gripe I have with the novel, and the only thing that stopped me from giving it five stars, is the incongruous, over the top ending, which had me checking the cover to make sure I was reading the same book. The ending is so out of place with the rest of the narrative. I truly wish that Dalton could have come up with an alternative ending, because, as I said, I loved everything else about this book. The protagonist, Eli, who has had such a troubled childhood. He questions the male role model characters in the book asking them if they consider themselves to be good men. Looking for the good in others, ultimately looking for the good in himself. He and his brother, who no longer talks after their father drove them into a dam, are raised by their mother and her boyfriend who are heroin dealers. This results in Eli’s confusion. Because in his eyes, Lyle, the boyfriend, and father figure, although a heroin dealer, is striving to be a good man and doing everything for Eli and his brother. His confusion is only strengthened by his babysitter Slim, who has spent just about his whole life in jail for a murder that he may or may not have committed. The relationship between Eli and Slim is one of the highlights of the book for me. There are so many great moments in this novel. His father’s library, which is just an empty room, no shelves, filled with thousands upon thousands of books, and silverfish. Elie’s break-in to Boggo Road jail to see his mother. There are elements of magical realism contained within the novel, but these are left intentionally vague and can also be seen in a realistic light. I found these elements strengthened the narrative and were written in a way that caters for both fans and those who dislike magical realism. Even with the ending, this is still a stellar book. This is Dalton’s first work of fiction and I have a feeling he is going to become a star in the literary “universe”.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Boy Swallows Universe was already on my TBR for receiving a bunch of accolades when it came out from various sources which I can’t remember because my brain is made of Swiss cheese. And more importantly because I thought it was a Young Adult novel (Apparently it isn’t??? I still argue it is) that was written by an Australian and I’ve had pretty good luck with the Aussie YA novelists in the past. Then a friend of a friend recommended it Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ Boy Swallows Universe was already on my TBR for receiving a bunch of accolades when it came out from various sources which I can’t remember because my brain is made of Swiss cheese. And more importantly because I thought it was a Young Adult novel (Apparently it isn’t??? I still argue it is) that was written by an Australian and I’ve had pretty good luck with the Aussie YA novelists in the past. Then a friend of a friend recommended it so I went ahead and pushed it to the top of the heap in order to play the guinea pig since I’m the faster reader. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have made her read it first. It was her pal who said how great it was, after all. In theory this book should have been a clear winner for me. It had so many things that usually generate a high rating . . . . So what went wrong? Well, in a nutshell . . . . . Okay, that’s a lie. I read every dang page. But that’s really my biggest complaint. Reading this was like driving on a highway full of potholes. Things were moving along just fine and I found myself getting to know the characters and invested in the goings on and then WHAM – the pacing just went right out the window while the author droned on and on and on about crap that didn’t have anything to do with the story (*rinse - repeat* ad nauseum). I also don’t really buy that much of this was inspired by any real life events and when it came to some magical realism being thrown in as an afterthought I was like . . . . But still it wasn’t terrible so 3 Stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trudie

    3.5 Finally finished a book in 2019 and it really was the perfect summer holiday read for me. This debut novel by Queensland journalist Trent Dalton is a rather fun romp through 80s Brisbane. The pages practically ooze Ocker. Men are clad in short stubbies, pale singlets, and rubber thongs, they drink cans of XXXX, chomp on Coon sandwiches while saying things like "strewth mate, did you see those Parramatta eels go ?". It is just that kind of book. Is it overdone ?, yes it probably is. Enjoymen 3.5 Finally finished a book in 2019 and it really was the perfect summer holiday read for me. This debut novel by Queensland journalist Trent Dalton is a rather fun romp through 80s Brisbane. The pages practically ooze Ocker. Men are clad in short stubbies, pale singlets, and rubber thongs, they drink cans of XXXX, chomp on Coon sandwiches while saying things like "strewth mate, did you see those Parramatta eels go ?". It is just that kind of book. Is it overdone ?, yes it probably is. Enjoyment hinges on how much you can tolerate these kinds of nostalgia trips and possibly how familiar you are with Brisbane. I found this to be a fun and frenetic reading experience, a tad messy and hyperactive but in a loveable way. For a debut novel it is pretty darn good, but I also think it could have been a far better book if the editors had reigned in some of Daltons exuberance. The repeated phrases of Your end is a dead blue wren and Caitlin digs deep didn't add a whole lot to the story in my opinion. I was probably on track to give this a solid four "beach read" stars but the ending spiralled into something like a comic book caper and to be fair since I have previously panned Washington Black for its anaemic looking bad guy then I have to call out the one dimensional nature of all the bad guys in this book as well. What these two books have taught me is to run a mile from elderly men, dressed all in white, with sickly countenances, pale thin quivering lips and flinty watery eyes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    DNF @ 40%. The writing was good, but the subject matter is just too depressing for me to invest any more of my valuable time. I will leave this unrated as the book was just not my cup of tea.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    4.5 Stars ”If dreams were thunder And lightning was desire This old house would've burned down A long time ago. “Just give me one thing that I can hold on to To believe in this living is just a hard way to go.” -- Angel From Montgomery, Bonnie Raitt & John Prine, Songwriters: John Prine ”I can see my brother, August, through the crack in the windscreen. He sits on our brown brick fence writing his life story in fluid cursive with his right forefinger, etching words into thin air. “Boy writes on air. 4.5 Stars ”If dreams were thunder And lightning was desire This old house would've burned down A long time ago. “Just give me one thing that I can hold on to To believe in this living is just a hard way to go.” -- Angel From Montgomery, Bonnie Raitt & John Prine, Songwriters: John Prine ”I can see my brother, August, through the crack in the windscreen. He sits on our brown brick fence writing his life story in fluid cursive with his right forefinger, etching words into thin air. “Boy writes on air. “…like every word was meant to arrive, parcel packed and shipped from a place beyond his own busy mind. Not on paper and writing pad or typewriter, but thin air, the invisible stuff, that great act-of-faith stuff that you might not even know existed did it not sometimes bend into wind and blow against your face.” “…as though he has to get it all out of his head but he needs the story to vanish into space as well, forever dipping his finger into his eternal glass well of invisible ink.” ”August is one year older than me but August is one year older than everybody. August is one year older than the universe.” An out-of-the-ordinary coming-of-age tale, Eli is a young boy on the verge of his teens in 1985, living outside of Brisbane with his brother August and his mother and her boyfriend, Lyle. Lyle and his mom have an unusual source of income – selling heroin – and leave Lyle and August in the care of a babysitter, Arthur “Slim” Halliday, an infamous convicted murderer, also known for his skill of escaping prison. Eli loved both of these men, Lyle and Slim, for the love they shared with him, and perhaps the wisdom, as well. When he was in prison, reading books on the stars and the galaxies, Slim would wander the universe – momentarily removing himself, if only mentally, from the cell, exchanging the walls around him into a vision of the heavens. He shares his thoughts on this with Eli, telling him “…an adult mind can take an adult man anywhere he wants to go.” In much the same way, it feels as though Eli comes to remove himself from the darker side of his life, the awareness of the life he, his family, is living while focusing on the beauty he finds in it, as well. ”’Never forget, you two, you are free,’ he says. ‘These are your sunshine hours and you can make them last forever if you see all the details.’ I nod loyally. ‘Do your time, hey Slim?’ I say. He nods proudly. ‘Before it does you,’ he says. That’s Slim’s favourite nugget of porridge wisdom. ’Do your time before it does you.’ Many of the details in this story were based on the author’s real life, and in part, the real lives of some of the people included in this story, but these memories are suffused with love, so while there are bad things that happen – and Dalton doesn’t sugarcoat them—there are also ordinary moments, and some seemingly fantastical ones, but only Dalton knows which are which. It took me a minute to really fall into these pages, but once I did, I had a hard time putting it down. While the setting is rather grim, the relationship Eli has with his brother, August, Slim, and eventually with their alcoholic father include some lighter moments, and the story is shared with so much love that love is what shines through despite the darker moments. At its heart, this really is a love story, but the real, messy life kind of love story, without the Disney animation or Cinderella song. Many thanks to my goodreads friend, Angela, whose review prompted me to read this. Please check out Angela's review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 2.5 stars Boy Swallows Universe, by debut author Trent Dalton is 2018 publication from Fourth Estate, an imprint of major Australian publisher Harper Collins. It was released to critical and popular acclaim, earning a place on bestseller lists and book clubs across the country. It has also been a permanent fixture on the social media circuit, which is where my interest was first sparked in this novel. Inspired by the real life events experienced by the author *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 2.5 stars Boy Swallows Universe, by debut author Trent Dalton is 2018 publication from Fourth Estate, an imprint of major Australian publisher Harper Collins. It was released to critical and popular acclaim, earning a place on bestseller lists and book clubs across the country. It has also been a permanent fixture on the social media circuit, which is where my interest was first sparked in this novel. Inspired by the real life events experienced by the author of this coming of age tale, Trent Dalton, Boy Swallows Universe is meditation on the trials and tribulations of a turbulent boyhood, life and humanity. Dubbed an Australian classic in the making and likened to the work of the great Tim Winton, Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe opens in Brisbane in the mid 1980s. It is centred on the story of Eli, a thirteen year old boy from a troubled family. His brother is mute, his mother a junkie, his father is an absent figure while his stepfather is a drug dealer. To top it all off, his babysitter is a convicted killer. While Eli negotiates the world around him, he must learn a tough lesson of what constitutes as right and wrong. He follows his beating heart and must work to avoid life’s obstacles. Things come to a head for Eli when his absent father comes back on the scene and together they must stage a spectacular jail break to rescue his mother. Boy Swallows Universe is about the alliances we make in life and the connections that matter most. I am a real schmuck when it comes to spectacular book covers and I must admit that Boy Swallows Universe gained my full attention from the first glimpse I had of this vibrant cover. The accompanying motif of a blue wren amongst the bold colour splashes also caught my eye. With so much positive media attention and endorsement for this book, I was keen to explore it for myself. What I respected the most about Boy Swallows Universe was the fact that the author, Trent Dalton, lays his childhood and personal experiences bare on the page for the reader to discover. Even though this is Trent Dalton’s life story, it is in the guise of a fiction novel. I applaud Dalton for this bravery and his openness. I takes guts to tell a story of this nature and he does this with a sense of honesty. But, we must realise that this is a fiction based novel, so Dalton has clearly taken liberties and changed certain details of his life story for the purposes of this novel. I was stuck early on by the truncated prose. ‘Your end is a dead blue wren. Boy swallows universe. Caitlyn spies. No doubt about it. These are the answers. The answers to the questions’. Coming of age novels seem to be all the rage. I know I have read a good handful over the last year. Boy Swallows Universe easily falls into this category. It also offers a glimpse into sibling connections, troubled family relationships, role models, boyhood, first love and masculinity. These are strong themes, explored alongside unlikely friendships, morality, tragedy, loss, danger and adventure. Combining these dramatic themes alongside the big characters in this novel gives more credence to this tale of a boy finding his feet in 1980s Australia. Reading this tale of growing up in 1980s Australia was nostalgic for me. I also grew up in the 1980s, but my own childhood was far removed from poor Eli’s experiences. It gave me an appreciation for my sheltered and happy childhood! Dalton does a good job of recreating 1980s Australia, with a particular focus on Brisbane and the housing commission experiences of the underclass of this region. Boy Swallows Universe is a book that emphasises action, drama and adventure. Life isn’t easy or smooth sailing for young Eli and he is a colourful narrator. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader occupied, along with good serve of destructive pathways for Eli to negotiate. This is all told in good humour and wit, thanks to Dalton’s prose. Ultimately, I have the feeling I may be the outsider with this book. I have drawn out as much by the way of positives as I can. In the end, I felt disconnected from the book, for reasons I cannot pinpoint. Whilst I had an appreciation for Dalton’s intentions, my relationship with this book, no matter how hard I tried, did not flourish. However, if you are reading this and are thinking twice about reading Boy Swallows Universe, I do suggest that you give it chance, as there is so much praise racked up for this one. ‘I stand on the thick edge of that brown brick prison wall and I see a yellow sand beach below me, but that beach does not run to the ocean water, it runs to the universe , an expanding black void filled with galaxies and planets and supernovas and a thousand astronomical events occurring in unison’. *Book #1 of the 2019 Aussie male author challenge

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Crupi

    2.5 Another addition to the boy coming-of-age gritty Australian crime and criminal-populated genre. Think Jasper Jones, Breath, Wimmera. Dalton renders a distinct voice for young Eli which might have drawn me in had I not found the writing and plot affected and overdone, especially in the ‘Aussie-ness’ of it all. A lot of readers will enjoy this book I think and I’ll certainly be in the minority but as soon as I sense a falseness in fiction I am taken out of the narrative and all I see are the l 2.5 Another addition to the boy coming-of-age gritty Australian crime and criminal-populated genre. Think Jasper Jones, Breath, Wimmera. Dalton renders a distinct voice for young Eli which might have drawn me in had I not found the writing and plot affected and overdone, especially in the ‘Aussie-ness’ of it all. A lot of readers will enjoy this book I think and I’ll certainly be in the minority but as soon as I sense a falseness in fiction I am taken out of the narrative and all I see are the laboured mechanics. This happened for me quite early in this far too long book and there was no going back.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Purcell

    This book has a big heart. But it isn't Tuesdays with Morrie. Imagine if the kid from the Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold, walked into an episode of Underbelly, that's what it's like. Heart with a kick. And it does have quite a kick when it gets going. You'll know what I mean when you reach that bit... Oh boy. And to think, Boy Swallows Universe is almost a true story. Loved this book. Get a copy. This book has a big heart. But it isn't Tuesdays with Morrie. Imagine if the kid from the Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold, walked into an episode of Underbelly, that's what it's like. Heart with a kick. And it does have quite a kick when it gets going. You'll know what I mean when you reach that bit... Oh boy. And to think, Boy Swallows Universe is almost a true story. Loved this book. Get a copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    My reading experience is always so much better when I have experienced first-hand the settings described in a book. In this instance it is the suburbs of Brisbane that came to life, specifically the lakeside suburb of Sandgate. Noted for its ‘nursing homes and fish and chips’ and a lot of talk about the railway station, I could put my 13-year-old self into the scene due to my frequent trips to my Aunty, Uncle and cousins. It was great hearing so many suburbs come to life, as many suburbs were me My reading experience is always so much better when I have experienced first-hand the settings described in a book. In this instance it is the suburbs of Brisbane that came to life, specifically the lakeside suburb of Sandgate. Noted for its ‘nursing homes and fish and chips’ and a lot of talk about the railway station, I could put my 13-year-old self into the scene due to my frequent trips to my Aunty, Uncle and cousins. It was great hearing so many suburbs come to life, as many suburbs were mentioned with frequency. Added to my experience was completing the audio read on a plane en route to visit my beloved Aunty Donna just last month. The author has captured the most ‘Australian-ness’ I have ever seen. This book is absolutely worthy of its acclaim. Literary fiction at its finest, and worth noting also is the perfection of the audio experience, brought to life by a very talented Stig Wemyss. Here is an article relating to the narrator: https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/... This tale is partly a coming of age story, partly a take on kinship and probably most prominent to me, partly a tale of friendship. I am not going to provide a synopsis here, what I would like to say is this author has the goods. This is the author’s debut work; this is quite stunning given the writing perfection shown throughout this magnificent read. The prose is lyrical and confronting, this combined with the most original plot imaginable makes for a remarkable book. It is with the strongest recommendation that I suggest this book, it is a story to be savoured quietly with the most intense gratification rewarded at the end. Mister Elie Bell is a witty, funny, lovable and loyal kid, I suggest you read his story. It will be the most remarkable tale told by a thirteen-year-old that you will ever experience.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Boy Swallows Universe is about Eli Bell, a boy growing up in the poorer outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. I was interested in it because I spent a month in the suburbs of Brisbane in 1994 and thought I might find familiar landscape. At first it seems like maybe this is a typical coming of age novel, until you realize Eli's brother only speaks by drawing words with his finger, and that the parental figures the brothers live with (Mom and boyfriend) deal heroin. At that point the novel takes a turn Boy Swallows Universe is about Eli Bell, a boy growing up in the poorer outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. I was interested in it because I spent a month in the suburbs of Brisbane in 1994 and thought I might find familiar landscape. At first it seems like maybe this is a typical coming of age novel, until you realize Eli's brother only speaks by drawing words with his finger, and that the parental figures the brothers live with (Mom and boyfriend) deal heroin. At that point the novel takes a turn toward Vietnamese drug wars, machetes and missing limbs, mysterious rooms, crime reporters, and estranged fathers. . The style of writing made me question everything - is Gus alive, does the room exist, is time linear, does everything that happened have an upside down calculator word - but after I finished it I wasn't clear the author intended to deter me in that way. But there is a level of surreality to it that felt confusing when you read the afterword, where the author says he basically wanted to write about his childhood and this is it. . I didn't know about heroin in Australia, but did some reading about it after finishing the book. It felt like a different sort of crisis in that it happened in daylight, in suburbia, and to family members and neighbors, not just sequestered to inner cities. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. The book came out in the United States on April 2, 2019, but I've been hearing about it since the fall from my Australian reading friends!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lea Davey

    WOW!!! Was it just because I was born in Brisbane and have always lived nearby, or is this book simply the most clever, entertaining, emotional, funny, outstanding and amazing novel that I have read in a long time! I absolutely loved the familiarity of the places, but even more, the harrowing, rollercoaster tale of a young man called Eli who grows up in a severely dysfunctional family. The story reveals the sinister, criminal and dangerous side of life that takes place almost around the kitchen WOW!!! Was it just because I was born in Brisbane and have always lived nearby, or is this book simply the most clever, entertaining, emotional, funny, outstanding and amazing novel that I have read in a long time! I absolutely loved the familiarity of the places, but even more, the harrowing, rollercoaster tale of a young man called Eli who grows up in a severely dysfunctional family. The story reveals the sinister, criminal and dangerous side of life that takes place almost around the kitchen table, while young brothers Eli and August, struggle to work out the relationships and meaning in their lives, in relation to the people they love the most. Not only is the story riveting and had me immersed until the last page but Trent Dalton's descriptions were so interesting that I felt like I needed to go back and re-read the words that flowed so smoothly across the pages. As I turned the last page I felt emotionally drained and I realised that I had just read a love story. A story of family love, regardless of the circumstances.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    I was supposed to read Boy Swallows Universe for my book club this month (you can follow along with it on Instagram @scaredsuspensebookclub), but I ended up falling into a binge-read last night and couldn't put it down! Trent Dalton mentions that Boy Swallows Universe loosely resembles his childhood, and especially his relationship with his mother. I am shaken to my core that stories like this are actual representations of how some people coexist in society. Moments like this just show h I was supposed to read Boy Swallows Universe for my book club this month (you can follow along with it on Instagram @scaredsuspensebookclub), but I ended up falling into a binge-read last night and couldn't put it down! Trent Dalton mentions that Boy Swallows Universe loosely resembles his childhood, and especially his relationship with his mother. I am shaken to my core that stories like this are actual representations of how some people coexist in society. Moments like this just show how I take my privilege for granted, and I really should be thankful for what I've been given in the thirty years of my life so far. Boy Swallows Universe is a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, that follows a teenage boy, Eli Bell, from childhood into early adulthood during the 1980s. Eli grew up in rural Australia, with a mother and stepfather who abuse heroin, and sell drugs to get by. While his parents are working, his babysitter Slim watches over him and his brother August. Slim is a notorious criminal, famous for the most prison escapes in Australia. Growing up in Darra, Eli's family is intertwined with Vietnamese drug cartels, and mob bosses such as Tytus Broz. Tytus is a legendary drug dealer who owns a prosthetics company, and fronts as a philanthropist to the unknown innocent world around him. As Eli grows up in Darra, his life is thrown curveballs at every direction. From parents who don't know how to "adult", to growing up with no opportunity to succeed, Eli and his brother August learn to take care of each other at an early age. Boy Swallows Universe is a story about a boy's discovery into becoming a man and what makes a man good or bad? Alright, alright! I should've waited to read Boy Swallows Universe with my book club, but I really couldn't put it down after just checking out the story, and I mean haven't we've all been there before? *raises hand awkwardly* Every single character in this story is important in some capacity, and you will feel enamored by how they engage with each other. Boy Swallows Universe reads like a true story, because it's too emotionally driven to be completely made up. Trent Dalton uses his own experiences growing up to craft this beautiful story about love, family, heartbreak, crime, and society's unfair advantages in life. I want to note that I've been seeing this story pop up for LGBT fiction, and there's literally zero mention, allusions, or foreshadowing of any LGBT themes in any capacity in this book. Just mentioning it now, so you don't get discouraged when you read this title and see no mentions of it in the story. I really can't harp on how amazing Boy Swallows Universe anymore than I already have. It's over 430 pages, and I finished the book in a day—that should really speak volumes as to how addictive this book can be! Boy Swallows Universe will be released in the United States on April 2, and I really think this is a book that everyone should pick up—you won't be disappointed.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.