Bernard Gallate’s The Origin of Me is a memorably quirky and modern coming-of-age novel come historical mystery.
The Origin of Me Synopsis
A beguilingly original and satirical debut novel of friendships, imagination, and the bodies we live in
Lincoln Locke’s fifteen-year-old life is turned upside down when he’s thrust into bachelor-pad living with his father, after his parents’ marriage breaks up, and into an exclusive new school. Crestfield Academy offers Lincoln a new set of peers – the crème de la crème of gifted individuals, who also happen to be financially loaded – and a place on the swim relay team with a bunch of thugs in Speedos. Homunculus, the little voice inside his head, doesn’t make life any easier; nor does Lincoln’s growing awareness of a genetic anomaly that threatens to humiliate him at every turn.
On a search for answers to big LIFE questions, he turns to the school library, where he spies a nineteenth-century memoir, My One Redeeming Affliction by Edwin Stroud, a one-time star of Melinkoff’s Astonishing Assembly of Freaks. As Lincoln slowly reads this peculiar, life-changing book, the past reaches into his present in fascinating and alarming ways.
Ways that defy imagination . . .
Audacious, funny and wonderfully inventive, The Origin of Me is a song to friendship, to young love, to the joy of imagination, and to celebrating differences.
(Vintage, Penguin Random House Australia – March 2020)
Genre: Literature, Drama, Mystery, Humour
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The Origin of Me is just the book I needed right now… A whimsical novel featuring a narrator who finds himself drawn to and immersed in a book! In keeping with Gallate’s theme of understanding, accepting and embracing each of our unique traits, let us consider this novel’s redeeming characteristics:
It celebrates the joy of reading and the power of books to help us understand ourselves, the world we live in and the myriad experiences (and thus perspectives) of all those we share it with.
… the book smelt like the promise of another world. It was Pop Locke that got me into reading. His favourite quote was from a French dude called Balzac. ‘Reading brings us unknown friends.’ With the hope of meeting a couple, I took a deep breath and opened to the first page.
Gallate uses stereotypes likes toys. He plays with them, and metaphors, to both humorous and thought-provoking effect.
Life’s too short to hold grudges. They turn into monuments that you can’t stop circling, like being trapped in your own museum of bitterness.
With charming (and distinctly modern Australian) irreverence he applies a satirical blowtorch to the notion that we live in a society free of prejudice and inherent bias.
The whimsy that extends to this novel’s plotting may not be to everyone’s taste, but readers will engage with the plight of this novel’s mid to late teen protagonist along with the diverse and colourful supporting character cast. For me, Lincoln’s interactions with the older generation held a particular charm.
The Origin of Me is a modern coming-of-age novel come historical mystery, and memorably quirky debut from Bernard Gallate.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
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This review counts towards my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2020.
We Ate The Road Like Vultures by Lynnette Lounsbury / The Book Thief by Markus Zusak / Erasmus Hobart & The Golden Arrow by Andrew Fish / The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon / The Flute Player by Shawn Mihalik
About the Author, Bernard Gallate
Bernard Gallate began his professional life in the animation industry with Hanna-Barbera, later working for Disney and a multimedia agency. After studying acting, he ran climbing tours of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for six years while writing and illustrating books for younger readers. Bernard currently teaches programs on early Sydney life and archaeology at historical sites across the city. The Origin of Me is his first novel.
* My receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.
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