“Deadly Unna” was the fist book published by the Australian Author “Phillip Gwynne” in 1998. The book focuses on racial tension, friendship, family conflict and relationships. The story is told in first person by the main character “Gary Black” more commonly know as “Blacky”. The story is mostly Blacky’s relationship with Dumby Red, an indigenous Australian, and about how he, as a white Australian, changes throughout the book, by understanding the racial conflict and learning how to stand up for himself. Blacky is more academic than he is sporty; though he plays football for the town.
He has a very large family consisting of 8 siblings, and he gets along with all of them, putting aside the occasional conflict. He has a good relationship with his mother; however, he has a terrible relationship with his father due to a past event. Dumby Red has a very enthusiastic, optimistic and self-confident personality. “Pickles” is Blacky’s best friend, and he disgustingly unhygienic, with gruesome habits. Blacky often goes to talk with his old next-door neighbour ”Darcy”, who a maggot farmer and is full of advice to give Blacky.
The story is set on a peninsula of Australia, all the whites living in the “Port” and all of the blacks living in the ”Point” about 1hour drive from eachother. I believe the reason the Author made the distinct seperation between the white and black Australians is to emphasise the racial tension in the area. The book consists of two parts, “Winter” and “Summer”. Winter being the footy is mainly focused around the footy culture of the town and focuses on Blacky trying to be the hero in his team, and eventually succeeds although by accident.
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They win the grand final, and by the end of the winter, Blacky becomes very aware of the large racial tension in the book. The “Summer” part of the book is mainly filled with racial, and family conflict, and during the course of this Dumby is shot dead. Blacky is faced with many decisions he has to make, and he has to follow his heart to do what is right. This book moved too slowly for me, and containing much excess writing that wasn’t at all necessary nor did it relate to the main plot at all.
The book never established the friendship between Blacky and Dumby red. After he died, Philip wrote about how they were such good friends, but there was nothing in earlier in the book to support that, so that confuses the readers a lot. Another factor is that it does not relate to many people in the world. It would only relate to people who come from a very Australian culture that knew all of the colloquial Australian language. I do not believe anyone that’s come from another country would understand the book at all.
I don’t even think some Australians would understand it, as they might have been blocked off from it. Additionally, I think it loses variety by the style of writing and that isn’t at all a good thing. The worst thing about the book I believe is the way it can’t relate to an adult, or a teenager. It moves way too slowly for a teenager, and doesn’t have nearly enough happening to entertain most readers. However, it also had too many immature themes and thoughts for an adult to read, so it doesn’t really relate to any general age group.
What I did like about this book is that it can educate young Australian teenagers about racism to a certain extent. Some people have no knowledge of racism, and I believe that with guidance, this book could educate them about some of the racism in Australia. Overall I rate the book 2 stars, as I do not believe it could do it’s job as a book to entertain the target audience, or at that any audience. Although I do believe that with the right insight, you could learn some things from it.
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