I’ve had the advantage of being old, and living in both the US and Australia and raising kids in each. That gives me a perspective on the book before seeing the film. Every so often, a young adult book hits a sweet spot in the national heart. I believe it is because we yearn for some simply presented leap over a national trauma — a narrative aid over collective sin that allows us to empathise with the right side. In the US, an example is ’To Kill a Mockingbird’. Published in 1960, it appeared just as the US was coming to terms with a deeply racist system. The themes in that book allowed the young reader to choose sides with moral clarity, based in more fundamental, human and presumably national truths than the racial overlay maintained by unwittingly evil souls.
The book was quickly adopted by US school systems and hundreds of millions of kids read it as assignments. A popular film resulted and it is now part of the US psyche. (As I write this neo-rascist Republicans are banning the book from schools.)
So too in Australia. The slant is different though. In 1964 when ‘Storm Boy’ appeared, Australia was similarly waking up. They had only recently relaxed the ‘white Australia’ policy and was slowly coming to terms with the ’stolen generation’ policies that would last another decade. The book is an anthem to the land, a condemnation of wicked society, and a celebration of simple truths. Like Mockingbird, it allowed the young reader to choose well and feel good. Like Mockingbird, it entered the schools and similarly moved the nation.
Posted in 2022
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.