Tribal Lores by Archimede Fusillo

Local author Archimede Fusillo is known for his culturally reflective stories that draw on his Italian–Australian heritage and the exploration of manhood through his young male protagonists. His earlier works, Sparring with Shadows and The Dons, attracted literary recognition and Fusillo has been a valued contributor on schools’ panels at writers’ festivals. His most recent work, Tribal Lores, draws upon familiar ground and we meet first-generation Australian Frankie Rescio growing up in a traditional Italian family in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

A shadow of grief hangs over the Rescio family and this loss both insulates and stagnates their growth, binding them to cultural traditions and restricting their connection with those outside their community. Until the day the Marsh family move into the house next door and bring with them their complicated and messy lives. Frankie and Lochie, the sons of their respective households, form an unlikely friendship, with each boy drawn to the other for the very things that set them apart.

For Frankie, it’s an opportunity to rebel against the strict parental and cultural expectations that bind him, and to lose himself in his first romantic crush: Lochie’s wayward half-sister, who is herself struggling to cope with an unplanned pregnancy to her less-than-impressive boyfriend. Lochie, on the other hand, is drawn to the Rescio family like a moth-to-the-light for their good modelling of loyalty, trust and support. At the core, this is a story about the values that shape us and the tribes we belong to.

Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.