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Michael Sala’s de­but, a fic­tion­alised mem­oir, her­alds the ar­rival of a new Aus­tralian voice. The con­fronting fam­ily drama fol­lows Michaelis (soon Michael) from boy­hood to adult­hood, and from the Nether­lands to New­cas­tle, Australia. Although vi­o­lence, in­tim­i­da­tion and dark se­crets dom­i­nate, the story also war­ily cel­e­brates life, love and courage.

Sala splits the story into two: Part One re­counts Michaelis’s young life in the third per­son, while Michael nar­rates Part Two. But the en­tire novel is about Michael’s world – es­pe­cially the one in­side his head. He de­picts in in­trigu­ing and of­ten dis­turb­ing de­tail his re­la­tion­ship with his mother and broth­ers, his ab­sent and dis­graced fa­ther, his abu­sive step­fa­ther, Dirk, his friends and even his awk­ward in­ter­ac­tions with strangers.

Mean­while, the re­ver­ber­a­tions of Dirk’s bru­tal­ity

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