Into the river – Ted Dawe

For those who don’t know, this book was up for consideration to be banned in New Zealand.  I can see why some would have thought this, but glad New Zealand was mature enough to decide not to ban it.  In fact I recently read that it’s getting a movie deal. If you read the abstract for this book it actually tells you nothing about the story. In fact I think the abstract for this book is pretty awful and useless. This story is about Te Arepa, who is called Devon for most of the book, Te Arepa is an identity he sheds pretty quickly into the book. He is incredibly smart and gets into a private boarding school where he finds a new identity amongst the city and white European New Zealand culture, where he names himself Devon, and sheds his Maori identity. That in itself speaks volumes as he now doesn’t fit in with his own people anymore and doesn’t really fit in with the rich white crowd at his school either. I’m not really sure how reflective this actually is as to what is happening with New Zealand’s Maori youth, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Most of the book happens during Devon’s high school years, the friends he makes, the girls he hooks up with and the shameful and naughty things he gets up to at his boarding school in Auckland so far away from his family in the rural North.  I read this book to completion, but found it a little challenging as I can’t really identify with Devon and his completely male boarding school, I have no actual real life experience with the things he was meant to handle and that made it difficult to keep my attention.  I can see why it was considered for ban though, it alludes to paedophilia (Student-teacher relationships), sex scenes and a rape scene, so if you’re looking at reading this or suggesting someone read it I would rate this as senior read with an age restriction of 16+.

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