Professional Reader

Hey brother book review

A devastating portrait of youth, rage and tenderness. Trysten Black is an enormous achievement and Dundler is a writer to watch.’ Kristina Olsson, acclaimed author of Boy, Lost

Before leaving for war in Afghanistan, Shaun Black gives his little brother Trysten a mission of his own. Keep out of trouble.

Trysten tries, but with Mum hitting the bottle harder than ever and his dad not helping, Trysten responds the only way he knows how, with his fists – getting into a fight at school and lining up for another one with his uncle who’s come to stay.

When the family receives news that Shaun will be home for Christmas, Trysten is sure that good times are coming. But when Shaun returns, Trysten soon realises he has a whole new mission – to keep Shaun out of trouble.

Duffy’s Thoughts On Hey Brother by Jarrah Dundler

Hey Brother is an intricate telling of a teenage boy trying to get by and look out for his family in rural Australia. Young Trysten tries to keep the fractured Black family together when his beloved older brother Shaun is sent to serve in Afghanistan. We then follow Trysten as he navigates school, girls and the separation of his parents until the anticipated news the Black’s have been waiting for arrives. Shaun is coming home in time for Christmas.

It is here that Jarrah Dundlers writing really takes off. Shaun seems to be the same, but little cracks soon start to appear and Trysten quickly realises he needs to look out for his brother to keep him out of trouble. The sensitivity laid on this working-class family drama gently coats the harsh edges of some of these rough and ready characters. ‘Uncle Trev’ in particular is one seedy wastrel with a fondness for the grog and is in danger of bringing down others around him with his boozing. My heart aches for young Trysten and the ending is pure ‘up lit’. The details conveyed in this story can only be told by someone who had lived in a small Australian town and I would be surprised if some of Dundlers memories aren’t interwoven in Hey Brother.

If you loved Tom Houghton and Wimmera, you will immerse yourself in Hey Brother. Just prepare to have a serious book hangover that even sketchy ‘uncle Trev’ would struggle with.

Published by Allen & Unwin 20th August

RRP $29.99

Hey Brother Jarrah Dundler