Electric and Mad and Brave by Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts is a writer adept at conjuring up the emotional tension and grief that comes hand in hand with adolescence. Somehow, with great insight, he seems to have remembered exactly what it was like, those years of freedom and containment, and he has gifted us the memories. Electric and Mad and Brave is the story of Matt Lacey and how a particular shocking and tragic teenage experience shaped his life. Matt – like all of us, surely – is not a dependable narrator, and in a series of journal entries, he shares his love story with the wildly independent Christina until, gradually, the truth is revealed.

This story is told with a clarity that verges on rage. It is told with an alacrity that reminds me of my own teenage years; those years where everything hurts and expands so much, where every word is loaded and a nod or a mention from one person can make everything feel new and possible. This is a long-distance relationship confused by grief, guilt and parents. It is the relationship that becomes the building blocks for adulthood. Adding to the complicated and heartbreaking nature of this story is the fact that the protagonist writes from the shelter of a mental health facility in Melbourne.

Electric and Mad and Brave is not frightened to pull at your heartstrings, but it does so without any sentimentality. This story will remind you of your own teenage years – those coercive and convoluted years – but it remains its own unique story. Surprisingly, this is Pitts’ first novel, and it packs a punch. If you love reading novels by Trent Dalton or Emily Maguire, then take this home with you, and be reminded that sometimes, we chose our own memories, whether they existed or not.

Chris Gordon is the community engagement and programming manager

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Electric and Mad and Brave

Electric and Mad and Brave

Tom Pitts

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