“Into the River” by Ted Dawe (ISBN13 9780473205089; 279p.; Goodreads) is one of those books I loved a lot, and yet am incapable of describing. As an intro I will rather tell you this: this is yet another book assigned by the book club. By now I believe that every good reader is ought to try one out. I know what you might say: I have such a long too read list, I can’t have others tell me what to read! Yeah, well, mine’s not getting any shorter either, but I regret nothing. Somebody else might find something you might otherwise miss. Just saying.
Te Arepa is a Maori from a proud tribe who once, long, and yet not that long ago, won a war against another tribe, thus becoming the survivors. Te Arepa was named after the boy who helped save the tribe, and, being a relative, got the surname of the man who has made it possible in the first place: Diego Santos, a pirate, betrayed, and washed out there, in search of new home, and new family. It all seemed so strange at first. Text is full of maori words, slang. Ra, Te Arepa’s grandfather keeps telling these odd long stories (good stories tho), that get followed by chants. There’s myths lurking all around, it seems, monsters, curses, spirits. By the end of chapter four I didn’t think Te Arepa would take the offer to go study into all-boys boarding school in the city, six hours drive away from home. But he did.
It takes a lot to fit in. To some it takes everything to even adjust. Te Arepa ends up in a room with three class mates, all so different from each other and him too. A no-backbone farmers boy, with a family full of smiles, and how-are-you’s, hiding their narrow minds. A rebel bad-boy Mitch, father just out of prison, head full of dreams of cars and races. And Steph, with his traveling business man of a father, who has seen all of these schools by now and knows just how they work. With the help of these guys Te Arepa soon transforms into Davos. And Davos cannot stand Te Arepa’s tight skin any longer. Going home becomes a burden… Not with all the city, cars, girls, drugs, and friends out here.
I’ll give this book a proper 5 out of 5 and shut up about it. This was indeed a something.