Review by Booklist Review
Aboriginal 17-year-old Jackson is frustrated. Despite the fact that he and his girlfriend have dated for five months, he has yet to be able to get an erection when they attempt to have sex. After the latest failure, he thinks, "What kind of man are you?" Readers will find a clue when his Aunt Pam comes from Sydney for Christmas. With her is 16-year-old Tomas, a foster child whom Aunt Pam is sheltering while he's on parole from juvie. Late that first evening, Jackson watches Tomas, also Aboriginal, sleeping and has what strikes him as a weird thought: "I think I thought he was cute." Jackson tries to banish the notion, but the reality of what happened persists, and, by fits and starts, a relationship develops between the two boys, which turns physical (with its own failed attempt at sex). Through it all, though, Jackson remains painfully ambivalent, even insisting to himself, "I'm straight . . . I like girls." But does he? Lonesborough's novel, first published in Australia as The Boys from Mish, is extremely well crafted and a model of verisimilitude. Important both for featuring gay Aboriginal characters and the complexities of understanding one's sexuality, this makes a very welcome addition to YA literature's LGBTQIA+ cannon.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Two First Australian teens fall for each other in secret. Summer on the Mish means plenty of time for 17-year-old Jackson to spend with his two best mates and girlfriend, Tesha. But try as he might, Jackson can't perform during sex. He blames the grog. But when cute, mysterious Tomas arrives, released from juvie and visiting Jackson's family for Christmas, it's clear there might be more to the story. Forced to share a room with Tomas, Jackson connects with him over art. When the boys realize their mutual attraction, life gets sizzlingly complicated. At first, they keep things quiet; no one on the Mish can know. But the harder they fall, the harder it is to keep their relationship a secret--and the less Jackson and Tomas want to. Published in Australia in 2021 as The Boy From the Mish, Yuin author Lonesborough's YA debut is a sweet will-they, won't-they romance with welcome Indigenous Australian representation. What starts as a slow-burn love story riddled with internalized homophobia blossoms into a beautiful relationship alongside discussions of racism and classism. The first-person present-tense narration offers a sense of immediacy that makes every moment count, from raucous parties to romantic bushwalks. The sights, sounds, and inhabitants of the fictional rural Koori community, which is informed by Lonesborough's own life, are richly rendered. An affirming, textured coming-out story. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.