Most schools have that tricky English class; usually around year 10, often dominated by a group of rather disengaged boys for whom reading shares the same affection as teeth-pulling or bed-making. Such a class presents a very real challenge, the lament of even the most dedicated educator. Steven Herrick, with his uncanny ability to speak to the hearts of our disengaged students provides a real option for such classes. As an added bonus he even delivers it in verse. “Yes!” I can almost hear you shout, all your prayers have been answered.
Written entirely in verse, Another Night in Mullet Town, is a novel investigating the world of teenagers Jonah and Manx. Living in the lakeside town of Turon, their lives are simple; hang out a little, fish a lot and expect to grow old living in one of the town’s dilapidated shacks. However, things are set to change. The Property Developers and Real Estate Agents have moved in, setting upon the process of transforming the town into a haven for Sydneysiders dreaming of an idyllic getaway. For Manx, son of the local servo owner, these new locals with their flashy houses, cars and cash are the antithesis of everything he despises; a direct challenge to his way of life.
Another Night in Mullet Town addresses a disenfranchised youth, who, bound by the ties of poverty, teeter on the verge of criminal activity. With themes that explore the tragedy of family dysfunction and breakdown, identity, the highs of first love, along with the desolation of a future devoid of hope; Herrick’s novel will hold great appeal with students in the senior years of secondary school. Used as a class text, teachers will embrace the opportunities to draw immediate parallels with other novels (SE Hinton’s The Outsiders, Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon) or film (The Breakfast Club). A closer exploration of the novel’s verse structure will certainly yield strong opportunities for text production.
This is a deliciously woven tale told in tantalising language. A gift for educators, it will speak to the realities of many of Australia’s youth. Another Night in Mullet Town is a magnificent story for teens, and haters of Real Estate Agents, everywhere.