Girl Loves Book, ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ by Trent Dalton

I’ve been meaning to write about this book for awhile now, because it consumed me in the best way writing can. I found myself reading Boy Swallows Universe every chance I got. Trent Dalton’s style is just so gorgeous and captivating.

Whether it be during train rides, my lunch break, or even in the middle of university lectures, you could find me with my nose in the book – and that’s the highest praise I can give. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth the read… The answer is pretty clear; you should be wondering why you haven’t picked up your own copy yet.

The book focuses on Eli Bell, a boy growing up in a dysfunctional family. He has an absent father, a mute brother, a junkie mum and a heroin dealer for a stepdad. The story has a bit of everything. It’s a story about brotherhood, unlikely friendships, true love and heartbreak, with a hint of magic throughout.

You will follow Eli on the adventure of a life time when he has to come face to face with the drug dealers that tore his world apart, creating family with a father he doesn’t remember, and falling in love with the girl of his dreams.

When recommending it to me, my friend described the book as beautiful, and it is. Boy Swallows Universe is beautiful the way a night sky is beautiful. It’s the literature equivalent of staring up at the stars on a clear night. It’s breath-taking, and the experience is surreal, but it’s also humbling.

Boy Swallows Universe also managed to take the crown as my new all time favourite book, which should speak volumes about how great it is. It dethroned Stephen King’s The Stand.

I’m a huge sucker for coming of age stories, and let me tell you – Boy Swallows Universe is the one that trumps all others. It struck a chord in me that no other book, or even movie in the genre has before.

I think the setting of the story also helped. The book takes place in Australia, which made it easier for me to connect with the characters and world. Trent Dalton does an amazing job at capturing what it means to be Australian, growing up here, and the spirit of the country.

I’ve seen people say that we don’t really have a culture here, but we do and Dalton brings it to life spectacularly. Even if you aren’t Australian, the book has so much to offer, and it still provides an interesting perspective into life here.

The book just delivers on all fronts really. Not only does it provide an entertaining story that’ll keep you hooked – it also leaves plenty for you to think about long after you finish reading.

Boy Swallows Universe is one of those rare books for me where I find myself coming back to re-read certain passages and quotes. The books themes and messages on determinism, love and “what makes a good person” really stood out to me.

Anyways, what more can I say without delving into spoiler territory? I’m the girl that loves the book. Go read it.

There’s a quote along the lines of “a book can become your best companion in times of crisis.” So if there’s one book you read during this pandemic, choose Boy Swallows Universe. You won’t regret it.

By Camellia Hao Ren

Camellia Hao Ren is an Australian journalist and editor. When they aren't writing, they are usually playing games or reading.

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