The Boy From the Mish


I was very happy to see Gary Lanesborough's debut YA novel, The Boy from the Mish, appear on the recent CBCA Notable Books list for 2021. This is exactly the kind of book we need more of, an own-voices story told with humour, insight and deep inner knowledge.

The 'boy' of the title is seventeen year old Jackson and he spends his days hanging out with friends and cousins, on the 'Mish' (old Mission) and in the country town nearby. When his aunty comes to visit, she brings a gang of young cousins to overrun the house, but also another visitor, Tomas, who has been in and out of trouble with the law his whole life. While Jackson has a loving extended family behind him, Tomas has had to struggle alone; but the two boys have something in common, at first a secret, then gradually revealed.

This is a partly a sweet, shy and sexy queer love story, partly a story about fear and being yourself, partly a story about finding who that 'self' is. The story moves along at a gentle pace but some of the most moving and interesting episodes are when the boys go out into the bush, out onto country, with the older men and Tomas connects to his Aboriginal heritage for the first time; Tomas and Jackson working together on a graphic novel with an Indigenous superhero; and their tentatively unfolding romance. The Boy From the Mish is a great start, and I look forward to seeing what Gary Lonesborough does next.

(Side note: auto correct does NOT like the word 'Mish' -- it's 'corrected' it to wish, fish and mist!)

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