THE boarding-school experience – bullying prefects, sadistic teachers and cruel rituals – has produced some classic films and books. While there is much that is familiar about Jon Doust’s recollections of ills at a West Australian grammar school in this semi-fictionalised memoir, Boy on a Wire does not simply rehash old themes. From the opening sentence, it is clear that we are in the presence of a writer with a distinctive voice and uncanny ability to capture the bewilderment and burgeoning anger of a boy struggling to remain true to himself while navigating the hypocritical system he finds himself trapped in. Accentuating the narrator’s sense of failure is the fact that his older brother excels at everything he does. What saves the narrator from going under and what makes Boy on a Wire much more than a bleak coming-of-age story is Doust’s sharp wit. “Justice not only prevails at Grammar School, it is rampant:’ If you know an angry teenager, give this to him.
As if this review would make you buy a copy!
(But on the slim that it does, go to Fremantle Press.)