The Origin of Me by Bernard Gallate is a wonderfully quirky first novel of the traumas faced by all teens as they negotiate the pitfalls of family, friendships and changes in the bodies in which they live.
Fifteen-year-old Lincoln Locke has moved in with his father after his parents’ marriage fails. He has been sent to a new school, the “Crestfield Academy for the Exceedingly Gifted”, where he has been placed in the school swim squad. Leaving behind his former friends, he tries desperately to fit in with his new classmates.
His vulnerability is made worse by the inner voice that has disturbed his thoughts since the recent death of his Pop Locke. He has named this annoying voice Homunculus. If this wasn’t enough, he has become aware of a bodily abnormality that he calls “The Nub”.
While searching for a book required by the school schedule, he finds a 19th century autobiography, “My One Redeeming Affliction” by Edwin Stroud, who appeared at Pemberton’s Theatre of Scientific Wonders. Could Edwin be the creature that provides living evidence of Darwin’s missing link?
After buying a bicycle from him, Lincoln develops a relationship with an extremely hostile junk collector called Bert, who is accompanied by a stuffed cockatiel called Perce. Do items in Bert’s vast collection relate in any way to Edwin’s past and Lincoln’s present condition?
A wonderfully off-beat novel that entertains and highlights the anxieties that assail adolescents who are trying to find their place in society. Theirs is the dilemma of wanting to be innovative but at the same time remain one of the crowd, and where physical differences remain difficult to accept by all involved.
This marvellous novel is a must read for 2020 by teens and adults alike.
Hopefully, there will be many more.
Publisher: Penguin Australia
The Origin of Me is available in paperback, e-book and audiobook
About Bernard Gallate
Bernard Gallate began his professional life in the animation industry with Hanna-Barbera, later working for Disney and a multimedia agency. After studying acting, he ran climbing tours of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for six years while writing and illustrating books for younger readers. Bernard currently teaches programs on early Sydney life and archaeology at historical sites across the city. The Origin of Me is his first novel.