Review: Honeybee by Craig Silvey

Title: Honeybee

Author: Craig Silvey

Published: 29th September 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’

Honeybee is a tender, poignant, and profound coming of age story from Craig Silvey, author of Jasper Jones.

Poised to jump from an overpass, fourteen year old Sam Watson locks eyes with an elderly man who appears to be contemplating the same fate. When Vic saves Sam’s life, Sam vows to save his in return and an unlikely bond forms between the two. Vic is the first person Sam has met who seems willing to accept him for he he is, even though Sam is not really sure who that is.

A character driven novel unfolding from the first person perspective, Honeybee explores the themes of family, friendship and self, as Sam struggles with his gender identity. Neglected by his mother, bullied by his peers, and beaten by his stepfather, Sam’s self-loathing is heart breaking as he he grapples with feelings of confusion, rejection, frustration, and isolation. Silvey’s portrayal of Sam is nuanced and compelling, thoughtfully expressing his complex thoughts and feelings.

Vic’s unexpected kindness becomes a lifeline for Sam, and introduces him to Aggie, and Peter, who in turn provide him with sorely needed support, even though he is often determined to refuse it. Self doubt leads to repeated self sabotage, and Sam makes a number of poor decisions, which puts both himself and Vic at risk.

Despite all the angst, and drama, there is also humour and joy to be found in the novel. Ultimately Honeybee is an extraordinary story of transcendence, of hope, of triumph, as Honeybee becomes she.

“And I’m not wrong, I’m me. And I don’t want to be invisible anymore. I want people to see who I am.”


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$32.99

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Review: The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

Title: The Land Before Avocado

Author: Richard Glover

Published: ABC Books, October 2018

Status: Read December 30, 2018

My Thoughts:

Technically I grew up in the 80’s, having been born in the early 1970’s, but so much of what Glover writes evokes memories of my childhood, from the pineapple ‘hedgehog’ cheese and onion appetisers, to the unbelted, smoke filled, weaving, courtesy of the ubiquitous cask wine in the bar fridge, car trips. I laughed aloud often at the nostalgic absurdity of it all.

However, The Land Before Avacado is also a sobering reminder of how far we have come as a culture. The status quo for baby boomers and most of Gen X would be inconceivable to today’s generations who can drink gourmet coffee (with smashed avacado toast) in the comfort of their own home, or by the roadside, any day of the week.

Tongue in cheek aside, many advances are sobering, from the drastic reduction of the road death toll, thanks to the introduction of drink driving and seatbelt laws, to laws protecting the employment status of pregnant women.

Glover also shares facts that will likely shock most readers who are convinced by their Facebook feeds that crime is at an all time high, when, in fact, the commission of serious crimes has more than halved across the board in the last fifty years.

While the nostalgic remembrances in The Land Before Avacado, appeal directly to those over the age of 40, I feel compelled to recommend to this to anyone over the age of twenty, many of whom could benefit from a little perspective.

Oh, and I am so going to cook the Spicy Meat Ring!

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Review: Impractical Jokes by Charlie Pickering

Title: Impractical Jokes

Author: Charlie Pickering

Published: Allen & Unwin (B Format)  June 2012

Synopsis: In 1986, Charlie Pickering’s dad, Ron, was pushed into a pool by his best friend, Richard. What followed was an all-out water pistol ambush in a five-star restaurant and then ten years of tit-for-tat payback and near fatal hijinx that eventually involved the State Emergency Service. When maturity is the first casualty of war, things tend to escalate.
Impractical Jokes is the true story of two seemingly responsible, middle-aged men who opted out of having a mid-life crisis and instead gave themselves permission to be silly. It is also the tale of how Charlie finally learnt something from his dad – that being grown-up shouldn’t mean losing your sense of humour – a lesson he lives to the full as one of Australia’s leading comedians.

Status: Read on June 10, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

Stand up comedian and television host Charlie Pickering recounts the hilarious protracted war of practical jokes and oneupmanship between his father and his best friend, Richard, in the light and funny memoir. It began with a playful nudge that saw Charlie’s dad, Ronald, land fully dressed in the backyard swimming pool. Revenge was carefully plotted until the opportunity presented itself to soak Richard in a restaurant using water guns. The two grown men, one a respected pharmacist, the other a respected business man, both with an inflated sense of mischief continue the game for over twenty years with Charlie an amused witness or willing assistant.

Impractical Jokes is laugh out loud funny at times as the pranks escalate, occasionally backfiring. Each joke is planned in elaborate detail, often involving a cast of willing co-conspirators, and hoarded until just the right time for maximum impact. Yet this book is also about the love Charlie has for his family, and his admiration in particular for his father who supported Charlie, even when he threw in his law career to become a stand up comedian. His father, as Charlie writes, is “the guy who gave me most what I needed to make it in the world”.

Impractical Jokes is a quick and easy read, funny, warm and widely appealing. It would make a great father’s day gift – particularly if your father is prone to wearing loud ties and telling bad Dad jokes.

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