A Kinchela Boy
by Christopher Bevan
Goanna Press

"He's never been much good with words, never been good at saying where he's been or what he saw or who said what to him or even what he feels most of the time."

Mick Mahoney faces life in prison for the murder of "his Mary," a crime he did not commit. Christopher Bevan's protagonist is unable to express his thoughts and feelings. Through the use of Mick's Aboriginal pidgin English, Bevan shows his mental and emotional confusion, but during Mick's time in jail, while he waits for an appeal, he becomes a member of the Kinchela boys' group, survivors of The Kinchela Boys' Home.

The story of Australia's "Stolen Generations" becomes the novel's subplot. A child who had a white ancestor was taken from his or her Aboriginal family as early as eight-years-old. Many never saw their parents or siblings again. The male children often ended up at the Kinchela Boys' Home—a place, in Mick's words, that was "a living purgatory full of nowhere kids, kids that the black fellas reckon are white and the white fellas reckon are black." Mick's cellmate, Keg, tries to protect him in the dangerous prison environment. The jail scenes are written with gut-wrenching honesty. Father Simon Hanley, the Catholic chaplain, also tries to help Mick, and their relationship impacts the priest's beliefs and behavior.

Bevan draws on his professional background as a solicitor, representing survivors of the Kinchela Boys' Home, to produce a work of literary fiction that draws the reader into the minds and hearts of those affected by an unjust period of time. A Kinchela Boy may sometimes be difficult to read because of graphic scenes, but it is also impossible to put down.

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