I’d never really thought about this concept until this year. I had been in South Korea for about a month and was coming to terms with being away from Australia for a while. The pandemic means I won’t be visiting home for the foreseeable future and we are on a 2 year visa.
I have been here three months and wowsers, I miss it. Not just my family friends; though I miss them dearly. But I miss home as a place. The coffee shop I would go to most mornings on the way to work. My usual grocery store. Newcastle Beach. The lady who worked at the Post Office. All those little things.
I did not expect to get a dose of home from a book I had never read before. I started “Boys Swallows Universe” on a whim just after I arrived in South Korea. It had been on my list for a while and I finally had time to read it.
I will be forever grateful to Trent Dalton for writing this book.
Boys Swallows Universe tells the story of 12 year old Eli. Eli is a boy with big dreams and this story explores themes of family, friendship and brotherhood as well as the intense heartbreak they can give us.
Trent has a knack for taking the mundane of Australian life and writing it into something beautiful. His casual mentions of sizzling bitumen roads and Black and Gold spaghetti made a part of me light up. I still find myself thinking about this book regularly; certain scenes, how I felt at the end of it, lines like this:
“Australian childhoods are so idyllic and joyous, so filled with beach visits and backyard games of cricket, that Australian adulthoods can’t possibly meet our childhood expectations. Our perfect early lives in this vast island paradise doom us to melancholy because we know, in the hard honest bones beneath our dubious bronze skin, that we will never again be happier than we were once before.”
This book has easily made my top 5 books of this year. Reading it during my first move overseas and away from home will always keep it in a special place in my heart. I urge you to read this book; and make anyone you know read it too.