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Australian RRP: $19.99
Published in Australia on the 1st August 2020 by Walker Books Australia.
Format: Paperback Binding
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction.
Page Count: 423
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Sypnosis from Walker Books Australia:
A moving and explosive tale about what happens when tradition and the need to belong collide.
Frankie Rescio is struggling with the death of his sister. Next door, Lochie Marsh is about to have his world invaded by his estranged, pregnant half-sister and her layabout boyfriend. Despite tensions simmering just below the surface for both boys and their families, they form a bond that connects their different worlds. Until tribal lores threaten to bring everything crashing down.
- Archimede Fusillo felt compelled to tell about the challenges of being a male who is not expected to sway too much from the traditions and values of a tight Italian family, yet surrounded by peers who pushed against these same restrictions.
- This book explores the fundamental things about growing up that never change: the desire to fit in and be accepted by one’s peers, the intrinsic urge to belong.
- Archimede Fusillo has over 15 successful books to his name, an award-winning International Literature Fellowship, and over twenty years of appearing at hundreds of schools, universities, Librarian Conferences, Writing Festivals-including Melbourne, Sydney, Fusillo knows what his target audience wants to read and how to deliver it.
Tribal Lores is a completely remarkable, raw and powerful coming of age novel, focusing on a young teenage boy who’s born in Australia to Italian Parents, who are firmly still set in their ways and traditions of their country. Frankie, our main character, is still struggling with grief for his sister who died young, whilst his best friend Lochie is grumbling because his estranged (and pregnant) half sister and her layabout partner will soon be moving in with the family in the too small property.
This essentially sets the foundation for quite the unique read! I feel like almost instantly, that I hadn’t read anything like Tribal Lores before and could appreciate Archimede Fusillo’s honest and raw approach to portraying family dynamics. I found myself really enjoying the scenes between Frankie and his Parents, with Frankie expressing on more than one occasion that whilst his parents are completely Italian, he himself is Australian born and doesn’t quite know where he fits in with everything! In turn, he knows his Parents have been struggling with Amelia’s death, which is completely tragic but it just seemed equally poignant that their Father says Frankie’s younger Brother “isn’t a man” and that he picked up habits such as playing the Accordion to make up for Amelia not being with them anymore: I just thought that was so sad to be announced, when one can clearly tell that Frankie’s little brother enjoyed the instrument and had a talent for it, which should just completely be attributed to himself…
As profoundly impactful this story might have been, I personally felt like there were quite a few elements of this story that really nipped the emotive aspects in the bud! Whilst Frankie and Lochie’s friendship I suppose could be considered one of the heralding highlights of this book, a lot of the secondary friendships really kept me wondering. Take China for example,honestly there was not a point throughout this book where I was wondering what his name was, because I’m really thinking it wasn’t China? It’s just that said character is of Chinese ethnicity, but how about actually naming a name. Spicks too, I felt like between both of them they didn’t overly contribute too much to the focal point of the story, I think they were Lochie’s friends more than Frankie’s and even now having finished the book, I’m still left pondering the authenticity of the friendship circle, especially after the penultimate events towards the ending where one of the characters almost meets a grizzly date, I felt like the secondary friendships just posed more angst than anything else, because often Lochie would go off gallavanting with China and Spicks (Frankie feeling unable to do so potentially due to his strict parents), but I mean these boys were really just young teenagers, which just made me raise an eyebrow at the consistencies here (like could they really take off of a night in one of their Dad’s car?!).
Something else which kept me wondering was the time in which this book was supposedly set. I feel like it’s never really been clear when this story was meant to take place, purely because the interactions with the characters and how people from different cultures and countries are perceived, didn’t exactly feel as authentic compared to the modern day, as it were. In terms of society even, I feel like Australia is more accepting and inclusive, so I was completely unsure as to why the word wog was thrown around so much at one point too, given how it’s essentially considered to be a slur.
Consequently, as impactful as I would’ve hoped that Tribal Lores might’ve been, I honestly felt myself just really left wondering about some of the characters thoughts and gestures and questioning some of the sub story plots too. However, I will remain firm that the story definitely remains at heart about family ties and I did find myself appreciating that honest and raw portrayal of family dynamics! It’s definitely worth picking up a copy for that alone, for I’ll be reflecting about this aspect of Tribal Lores for some time.
About the Author:
Archimede Fusillo has had nine YA novels published both in Australia and overseas. His novels have won both critical and reader acclaim, with The Dons winning Book of the Year in 2001. He has won many prestigious awards, including the Alan Marshall Award, the Henry Savery Award and the Mary Grant Bruce Award, and is the recipient of an International Literature Fellowship – which itself was awarded the Sanciolo Literature Award. He has also written several textbooks on writing, has lectured all over Australia and overseas and has also been the judge of the Victorian Premiers Award and the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards. Find out more at archimedefusillo.com.