New This Month: The Devil You Know by Leonie Norrington

cDamien’s father, 88, is coming back. Damien is not happy. 88 is violent. Like many other perpetrators of domestic violence, he is constantly apologizing and promising to reform. Damien doesn’t believe it, but his mother is prepared to take her ex back. His only comforts are a book called Dangerous Creatures and the drawing and cartooning with which he can express his inner feelings.

What Damien isn’t expecting is that his father will be considered cool by his schoolmates, because of his fabulous motorbike, to the point where it will get him an “in” with the elite crowd. What happens to his friendship with the school outcasts? Will hanging out with the school bullies make him willing to be one himself?

The Devil You Know (Allen & Unwin) depicts vividly Arnhem Land, where the author herself lives. Aboriginal culture runs through the story, though the main characters are white Australians. Damien’s drawings are woven beautifully into the tale; the novel begins and ends with pages of graphic story. Artist Michael Camilleri has worked well with the story, doing a lot more than just illustrate. His beautiful illustrations are an integral part of the tale, as they are Damien’s.

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