Australia – Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas


Set in Loch Lomond, Brisbane and Japan!

Danny Kelly is a working class boy who attends a private school in Australia on a swimming scholarship.

He’s not a popular nor likable character and is bullied. Danny however has dreams and wants to be the best swimmer there is and eventually go on to win a medal  – Gold if possible – at the Olympics. That will show the bullies he thinks to himself.

However when he tries for the Australian Swimming Championship he misses out on a place for the Olympic team and to say he is upset is an understatement.

Life goes downhill from that moment onwards.

Danny is a character I found hard to like. As many teenagers can be, he is somewhat self-obsessed and when he fails to get a place in the Olympic squad, he becomes worse.

Having said that Danny shows us what it is like to go through all those struggles whilst suffering bullying, violence and shame. Danny for me had potential but one failure led to him making some decisions which made his life all the more unbearable.

The Australian cover
The Australian cover

Danny seems confused and troubled and his life was revealed in this way too – events aren’t in order and the places and settings dot around in a way that a teenager boy’s thoughts probably do. Not easy to read at times – sometimes the settings and dates aren’t even mentioned at the start of chapters which did add to the confusion slightly. Danny is also known by several different names and nicknames – another sign of the boy’s inner confused  thoughts?

The thread throughout the book  – you know at the beginning that Danny has a secret – something is to be revealed that will explain things….or will it? It’s not revealed until much later on.

As you might expect, there is some graphic and offensive words in the book and it slaps you in the face at times.  Again, it makes you react to the book’s subject. Right from the start too – so if you are offended, be warned.

What it leaves behind however are the memories of the joy of swimming (which I know nothing about) and the joy of reading (which I totally agree with)

And the dream of one boy to swim in the Olympic Games…

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