The Origin of Me

Bernard Gallate

The Origin of Me
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The Origin of Me

Bernard Gallate

Lincoln Locke’s fifteen-year-old life is turned upside down when he’s thrust into bachelor-pad living with his father, after his parents' marriage breaks up, and into an exclusive new school. Crestfield Academy offers Lincoln a new set of peers - the crème de la crème of gifted individuals, who also happen to be financially loaded - and a place on the swim relay team with a bunch of thugs in Speedos. Homunculus, the little voice inside his head, doesn’t make life any easier; nor does Lincoln’s growing awareness of a genetic anomaly that threatens to humiliate him at every turn.


On a search for answers to big LIFE questions, he turns to the hallowed school library, where he spies a nineteenth-century memoir, My One Redeeming Affliction by Edwin Stroud, a one-time star of Melinkoff’s Astonishing Assembly of Freaks. As Lincoln slowly reads this peculiar, life-changing book, the past reaches into his present in fascinating and alarming ways.

Ways that defy imagination …

Audacious, funny and wonderfully inventive, The Origin of Me is a song to friendship, to young love, to the joy of imagination, and to celebrating differences.

Review

Previously known for his work in children’s literature, Bernard Gallate brings a lightness and sense of play to his debut adult novel, The Origin of Me.

Things aren’t going too well for fifteen-year-old Lincoln Locke. Following the breakdown of his parents' marriage, Lincoln is pulled from his laidback, idyllic northern beaches lifestyle and thrust into the sound and fury of his dad’s new inner-city Sydney bachelor pad. Awkward father-son moments aside, Lincoln has to try to find a way to fit in at his new, exclusive, and elitist school, to resist the orders of Homunculus (the voice inside his head) and hide ‘the nub’ – a peculiar growth at the base of his spine.

The Origin of Me walks the winding but well-trodden path of coming of age novels by authors past, but it manages to be charming enough to feel like something new. Lincoln’s struggles with change, identity and self-image make this novel a great fit for teenage readers. However, it is through its satire of Australia’s ‘nonexistent’ class system that The Origin of Me really shines. While one could certainly not call them subtle, Gallate’s characterisation of old-boy-cum-teacher Nigel Lethrige is hilariously accurate.

The Origin of Me is a bouncing debut novel whose youthful energy is powered by a satirical undercurrent that will reward those willing to float with the tide.


Barney Pollock works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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