reviewed by Sharon Giacon, Green Bay Primary/Intermediate School Librarian
Ted Dawe’s entry this year in the NZ post children’s book awards young adults section is Into the River, a thoroughly absorbing read.
The central character Te Arepa Santos, 13 years old, bright and from small town NZ wins a scholarship to attend an elite boarding school in Auckland. Fitting in is a struggle for Te Arepa with bullying and old school traditions challenging his identity. He is given a new name – Devon, and progressively separates himself from everything that identifies him as Maori. Devon struggles to move between his school life and life back down the line, but whenever he is home we learn from his grandfather more of his deep Maori and Spanish heritage.
This is a coming of age novel and prequel to Thunder Road http://www.longacre.co.nz/books/ThunderRoad.html , which won best young adult fiction and best first novel in 2004 .
Into the river is best suited to an older student audience. Some adult and controversial themes are featured in this book so it won’t be appearing in our primary school library.
This is the first Ted Dawe book I have read but won’t be my last.
Ted Dawe grew up in small rural towns around New Zealand. His first novel Thunder Road won the Young Adult Fiction section of the New Zealand Post Book Awards in 2004. It also won for him the Best First Book award. Since then he has published an adult novel, K Road and a Junior fiction novel, And did those feet… (which was a finalist in the Junior division of the 2007 awards). He published a collection of short stories, Captain Sailor Bird and Other Stories and a teacher’s resource book in 2007.