The Devil You Know by Leone Norrington.
The Devil You Know by Leone Norrington. Pub. Allen & Unwin 2009.
Amazingly the Australian author who wrote this novel is hardly known in New Zealand but she should be. I have heard of the Barrumbi Kids but never read it.
I guess she writes about Australian stuff but the themes of this novel are universal and powerfully presented by Leone Norrington. So powerful in fact that some adults may balk at giving it to their intermediate and high school kids to read. They shouldn’t.
Damien lives with his mother, he is about 12 years old, they live in rough household conditions in the Northern Territory where the pub is the centre of life and a host of weird characters coast around. Damien’s mom is terrific with great values and a big heart. Damien loves her to bits and is very protective of her.
Damien’s father is a different kettle of fish. He is a biker with the number 88 as his monika. He rides a Harley and has just come back into Damien’s life after a separation caused by physical abuse of Damien’s mother.
Damien hates him but has to adjust because his mother says his father has a good heart and it was the booze that caused the problem. She has a drink problem too
But 88 wants to give it a good shot and seems to be doing the right thing. Damien is not so sure and his art work throughout the novel reflects his anxieties.
For Damien his life is centered at school and issues like bullying are big here. The teachers and Principal are mostly terrific but there is the issue of sexual abuse to contend with. Brilliantly written and easy to read. I was intrigued from start to finish. It starts and finishes with superb art work. Boys will love it and it has a positive ending.