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The Boy from the Mish

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A funny and heart-warming queer Indigenous YA novel, set in a rural Australian community, about seventeen-year-old Jackson finding the courage to explore who he is, even if it scares him.

'I don't paint so much anymore,' I say, looking to my feet.

'Oh. Well, I got a boy who needs to do some art. You can help him out,' Aunty Pam says, like I have no say in the matter, like she didn't hear what I just said about not painting so much anymore. 'Jackson, this is Tomas. He's living with me for a little while.'

It's a hot summer, and life's going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It's almost Christmas, school's out, and he's hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson's Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city - but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them… As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret - a secret he thought he'd locked away for good.

288 pages, Paperback

First published February 2, 2021

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About the author

Gary Lonesborough

4 books124 followers
Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin man, who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Growing up a massive Kylie Minogue and North Queensland Cowboys fan, Gary was always writing as a child, and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in Aboriginal health, the disability sector (including experience working in the Youth Justice System), and the film industry. He was Bega Valley Shire Council Young Citizen of the Year, won the Patrick White Young Indigenous Writers' Award, and has received a Copyright Agency First Nations Fellowship. The Boy from the Mish is Gary's debut YA novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 451 reviews
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
467 reviews276 followers
February 28, 2022
Ready When You Are is The Boy from the Mish ! Beautiful in simplicity, pure, and heartwarming! Such a fantastic debut about two First Nation Australian boys!
Sometimes a book embraces me entirely and doesn’t let go. That’s what happened to me while reading this story. The writing is simple, and not much is happening; it’s just a hot summer in Australia. Jackson, a Koori, swims in rivers and lakes with his friends and cousins, parties, and gets drunk. And yet there is tension like an undercurrent, a feeling of discomfort in the sweltering heat. I’m writing this while watching a snowdrift outside, and still, I can feel this heat and see those surroundings as if I’m there myself. An author has a huge talent when they can describe everything so vividly in such a simple way.
Jackson is searching for his identity. It’s palpable from the very beginning, even though it’s subtle. The way he acts being with his girlfriend, the way he looks at a boy at a campsite, and the way he feels around Tomas, the Koori boy who’s staying over during the summer in his house. Slowly, he allows more of his feelings.
I loved Jackson and Tomas, both distant and closed at first but opening up more and more, realizing they liked each other and could be themselves together, coming out at their own pace. I’m already impatiently waiting for Gary Lonesborough’s next book!
I received an ARC from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,578 followers
February 1, 2021
"I want to hold your hand and walk along the beach with you. I want to buy you presents and take you for a picnic on Valentine's Day. I want to be your boyfriend."

representation: Aboriginal MC & cast of characters (own voices), gay MC & love interest (own voices).

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


Wowowowowowow. What a debut! And a much needed voice in the YA world.

This book is all about our main character Jackson who is Aboriginal and grew up on the Mish with his family. Every Christmas, his Aunty and cousins come to stay but this time, his Aunty brings along Tomas, another Aboriginal kid who's just come out of Juvie and is put with his Aunty to keep him on the straight and narrow. But through sharing a room and showing Tomas all of the beautiful beaches, lakes and forests around their town, their bond grows until Jackson can't deny his feelings any longer but he believes no one will love and accept him for who he really is if they find out.

I loved the exploration of Jackson's culture and spirituality. As a non-Indigenous person, I found it really fascinating and beautiful. Tomas is also experiencing a lot of these ceremonies and rituals for the first time as well, and it was so nice to see him take it all in and find his place within it all.

Being Aboriginal is a huge part of the story, as we see the characters deal with racism not only from white members of their town, but also from members of authority like the police. This also ties into my next point, that Tomas is such a sweet cinnamon roll of a boy, and yet he's been in trouble for most of his teenage life and just come out of juvie. It's clear through the storytelling that the only reason for Tomas to have ended up there is purely because of the effects of systemic racism in our country. It's so sad. He's working on a graphic novel and Jackson tells him how amazing it is and I damn near cried when Tomas said something along the lines of, "Nobody has ever told me I'm good at anything before". MY HEART.

Jackson has such an authentic and relatable teenage voice. He'd get annoyed at silly little things and while reading the book, I kept remembering how I would get grumpy and annoyed at the slightest things when I was a teenager. I love how Lonesborough didn't shy away from showing what it's REALLY like being a teenager, mood swings and all. AND THE ROMANCE. It truly encompasses the emotions and everything that comes with experiencing your first love!! And they were both so understanding with each other when one said they're not ready for people to know etc. they just took it in stride and were always on each others side no matter what and it was just so WHOLESOME.

I'm so glad this book exists and I loved it so much. I would definitely recommend checking out some own voices reviews though because obviously I can't speak for the Indigenous community, but let's get more Queer, Indigenous stories out there because they deserve to be told!

trigger warnings: racism and racial discrimination by police, separated parents, medical emergency (snake bite), homophobia, incarceration of loved ones, alcohol and drug use, spiders, brief mention of past domestic abuse, violence, vomit, forced outing.

Thank you so much to Allen and Unwin for the review copy!
Profile Image for Jesse On Youtube .
66 reviews4,461 followers
December 2, 2021
A must read. An unflinching, poetic tale of two boys bound by their growing feelings for one another and their quest for selfhood. We loved how both characters were allowed their tenderness, their nuances, their delights and shame. It is told in a beautiful poetic prose that lingers in the mind. Please read it ❤️‍🩹 content warnings for homophobia, Anti Aboriginal expressions, and bullying.
Profile Image for Meags.
2,109 reviews371 followers
March 17, 2021
4 Stars

The Boy from the Mish is a coming-of-age LGBT story, both enlightening and authentic in terms of characters and narrative.

Set in a rural Australian community, in New South Wales, the story follows the day-to-day life of an Aboriginal teenager named Jackson, as he enjoys his summer with friends and family, while contemplating his future and coming to terms with his queer identity.

For me, the queer indigenous factor was a major selling point, as I’ve never experienced an LGBT story before as told through the lens of a young Aboriginal protagonist. In this respect, this debut is truly ground-breaking and remarkable, and I’m so excited for this story to find a wider audience in the YA and LGBTQIA reading community.
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.3k followers
February 11, 2021
The Boy From the Mish is a beautiful coming of age story about first love, self discovery and acceptance. We meet Jackson, an Aboriginal boy who lives on the Mish with his family, as he questions and explores his sexual identity. ⁠

Jackson meets Tomas, a mysterious boy with a troubled past. I enjoyed seeing the relationship blossom, and how open and understanding they came to be. There were some really touching moments and it was so heartwarming to see them feel so comfortable just being themselves around each other.⁠

There is such a strong sense of community, family and connection threaded throughout the story. I especially loved the men's group, where the young Aboriginal men and elders come together to heal and connect. ⁠

This is an uplifting love story that weaves in some of the very real experiences with prejudice and systemic racism that First Australians face.⁠ ⁠

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,692 followers
December 2, 2021
The Boy from the Mish is a rollercoaster of emotions and an at times funny, at times heart-wrenching story about being queer, Black, and Aboriginal.

- Follows Jackson, an Australian Aboriginal teen who navigates his new friendship and budding crush with Tomas, another Australian Aboriginal teen staying with his family over the Christmas holidays.
- It's a story about navigating and ultimately coming into your sexuality.
- With that, it also explores Jackson's internalised homophobia, his fear of coming out, coming to terms with being gay, and where his gay identity places him within his community.
- The story is atmospheric, a portrait of rural Australia with the sticky heat. The humour in this is great, but it’s also hopeful and ultimately comforting.

Content warning: anti-indigenous racism, internalised homophobia, anti-gay rhetoric and comments, coming out themes, recount of parental abuse, alcohol consumption and drug use, police violence
Profile Image for Iman.
586 reviews42 followers
March 10, 2023
If I am 14, this is my coming out book LOL. Sigh, wish it was though :’)

This was definitely heartwarming! I really enjoyed the writing, it was really told in a YA style if you get what I mean. I finished this in one sitting it was a fast read. I loved the atmosphere, the plotline and the sexuality awakening. Jackson’s experience with his sexuality was so realistic to me. From the frustration, to confusion and then realizing it. The representation just called out to me <3<3

“You know what would be weirder?” he asks.
“If we kissed again.”

They had lots of romantic and cute scenes. The “angst” was quite predictable with books like this and surprisingly it was not shocking and it ended so quick. But I don’t know if I like that though 😬😬 Also, the whole juvi and court plotline was a bit too lack of depth for it to be a catalyst of the plot, but I think the 4 ⭐️ fit with the YA genre with this one.

I did love the touches of their vulnerability near the end which was a sign of their closeness. Adorable :>

“I just don’t want to lose anyone,” I say. “I’m not ready for people to know anything.”

See what I’m saying? Perfect for coming out hahahah

The thought of coming out makes me nervous, but not in a bad way anymore. Before, it would have scared me into a hole in the ground or even inside myself, and I would have probably never crawled back out, but it doesn’t scare me so much now, knowing me and Tomas will do it together; knowing my friends have my back.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
March 30, 2021
Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Jackson (mc) & Tomas (li) gay & Indigenous Australian; Indigenous Australian & achillean scs.

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Profile Image for Linn.
63 reviews16 followers
February 9, 2021
So, one of my recent best decisions was buying this book, starting it the same evening and finishing it the next morning. Though that wasn't particularly a decision, it was more that I couldn't stop, because "The boy from the Mish" is just SO good. It pulled me in from the first page on, made me fall so hard for its maincharacter and hit me right in the feels.

But let's start from the beginning. As the blurb says, "The boy from the Mish" is "a queer Indigenous YA novel, set in a rural Australian community" and it's "about seventeen-year-old Jackson finding the courage to explore who he is, even if it scares him."
When Jacksons aunt visits his family with his cousins, there's also someone else with her. Tomas, who just got out of Juvie and has to work on something art related. Tomas, who makes it so hard for Jackson to keep his feelings locked up somewhere inside himself.

First I have to say that the whole atmosphere of "The Boy from the Mish" is amazing. You can basically smell the lake or the rain, you can feel the sun on your skin and it's just as if you're there with Jackson and Tomas. This book really consumed me whole and made me feel like I'd live in it's pages, because it felt so ... real. Everything about it just felt real and so full of heart, soul and depth.

I also loved the writing style of the author very much. I didn't want to miss a single sentence, beause somehow every single one was important and added to the atmospheric vibe of the book. But also because every single sentence made me fall in love with Jackson a bit more.

Jackson is one gem of an amazing maincharacter. He is written in such a raw and emotional way. Just like everything else in the book, he felt so real, too. His character is explored so thoughtfully, while not leaving out a single one of his emotions. He is a teenager and an artist and a boy who struggles with his feelings. His characterdevelopment, his journey of self acceptance and finding his way in his Aboriginal community was beautiful to read.
I loved the way his relationship withTomas slowly build up, how their feelings for each other grew and how they came to accept these feelings and themselves with every page a bit more.
It was sweet, heartfelt and while there was angst, it leaves the reader with that warm, hopeful feeling you get when someone comes to accept who they are, despite all their struggles.
Also Tomas writes a Graphic Novel about an Aboriginal superhero and Jackson draws for him - I loved it. 🥲

At the same time this is a beautiful book about community, belonging and finding your place. I loved to get to know more about Koori culture and the parts about connecting with Aboriginal community and elders were bautifully written. It's a story about family and being accepted for who you are. Believe me, when I say that this book has the best cousin ever in it. 🥲

"The Boy from the Mish" doesn't shy away from discussing heavy topics like homophobia or the discrimination and systemic racism Indigenious Australians have to face.
And while there's hope and love written throughout every sentence of this book, it also shows the hard reality of two 17 year old Aboriginal boys for whom discrimination, racism and being approached in a different way by the police due to systemic racism, is part of their everyday life.

I don't know, but this book reached my heart in a way only few books do. It's that kind of book that will stay with you for a long time. It's so beautiful in its authenticity, rawness and honesty. It doesn't hold back, makes you feel all the emotions. It leaves you with an aching that you welcome, a longing heart and a smile on your face.
I'm more than glad that I picked it up. Absolutely adored it.

CW for racism, racist discrimination by the police and racist slurs, homophobia and homophobic slurs, violence (on page and past), alcohol, drugs, forced outing
Profile Image for Kerri.
980 reviews351 followers
January 18, 2023
I'd planned on reading this anyway, but when I saw Meyne Wyatt narrated the audio version, I bumped it up my list. This book is very good, and I hope the author continues to write. I loved the evolution of the main character, which was mostly internal, and felt realistic.

One of my favourite parts of the book was when something went wrong, he understandably panics, but the author resists having him lash out cruelly. This was refreshing, especially because it meant the relationship we are investing in is between two people who are definitely not perfect, but treat each other with care.

Part of me would love a sequel to this, perhaps ten years in the future or something, but it's also a strong book as is. I was invested in the characters, in the story they were writing together (a graphic novel, which I would happily read!), in their relationship, in their futures.

I also loved that the adults felt like real people, especially Jackson's mother, who continues to surprise her son. She was a constant presence in his life, and stands by him, even as she allows him to be quite independent.

Oh, and as well as being heartfelt and emotional, the book is also consistently funny.


Note---This novel is also published under the title: Ready When You Are.
Profile Image for Levi Huxton.
Author 1 book105 followers
April 1, 2022
Did LGBT YA exist when I was a teenager? Probably not as the genre it is today. The books that broke through my teen angst and spoke to me of other ways to be were by Donna Tartt, Douglas Coupland, Michael Chabon: adult novels I could decipher and from which I could imagine new pathways beyond the options presented by my peers. And then there were the gay writers whose work felt illicit or impenetrable and, writing with other adults in mind, did little to assuage my adolescent fears.

Today there’s an entire corner of literature for and about teens, and it’s as diverse and ambitious and ground-breaking as anything in the literary fiction aisle. I wish I was 16 again so I could immerse myself in this universe. More to the point, I wish my 16 year-old self could have found some of these unwritten books then. I can’t count the ways in which my life might have been different.

In The Boy From The Mish, Yuin author Gary Lonesboroough tells the uplifting story of a seventeen year-old Indigenous boy making sense of his desires, his beliefs and his future during one hot Australian summer.

It's almost Christmas, school's out, and Jackson’s looking forward to hanging with his mates. Just like every year, Jackson's Aunty and little cousins visit from the city - but this time they’re joined by another teen with whom Jackson has to share a room. Tomas is just out of Juvie, snores and would be annoying if he wasn’t so damn… cute.

What follows is the marvelous story of a queer awakening told in the simple but limpid voice of a mischievous boy who for the first time in his life, needs to make some serious choices.

An Aboriginal perspective on the coming out story is exactly what the world needs right now. Speaking from lived experience, the author tells a familiar tale but illuminates it with new insights. Well, new to this white reader anyway.

Lonesborough deftly captures the inner-monologue of a misfit youth wrestling with that particular brand of anxiety, the tug of war between fear and excitement, vulnerability in the face of self-doubt and the sense of invincibility common to young men of that age. Without positive models of gay life to refer to, Jackson wants to “get back to the way things were before I met him. Get back to me, to who I was, who I can still be.”

The stakes are high. Being different on The Mish is already perilous: Jackson and his friends have to contend with racism, both systemic and in their daily encounters with white kids and tourists. Rejection from his own community would break up the only real support system available to Jackson. The author makes subtle but very real references to the dead ends Aboriginal men too often face growing up in systemically racist system: juvie, jail, substance abuse, suicide.

Throw queerness in the mix and the environment becomes volatile indeed. “This is the Mish. No one does that here. I don’t do that.”

At the same time, Jackson discovers that connection to the land and to his community is also where he can locate the strength to be who he wants to be. In this respect, it’s particularly refreshing to see the rites of adolescent passage play out against a natural backdrop. Key moments in Jackson’s journey of self-discovery take place canoeing on a river, hiking up a mountain or during a smoking ceremony.

In an incredible conversation with an Elder, Jackson is told of the enduring suffocating shame of colonization, and its antidote: a pride in who we are, who we love and where we come from. Drawing that line between cultural revitalization and self-determination in the context of coming out is incredibly powerful. It’s a fleeting but defining moment in a book that rarely preaches, dispensing its lessons with a light touch.

When Tomas and Jackson discuss their collaborative graphic novel, an Aboriginal superhero origin story, it’s clear to the reader who the real superheroes are, and what they have to teach us. This book should be on the high school curriculum across the land.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,585 followers
July 29, 2021
As a queer Indigenous YA story, The Boy From Mish offers some much needed representation in the #LoveOzYA space. It is a sweet, heartfelt coming of age story about Jackson learning about his sexuality and his attraction to males, particularly his new roommate Tomas.

I thought Jackson was a wonderful character, his thoughts and feelings were raw, deep and honest. As someone who is comfortable in his community and with his place there, it’s natural for Jackson to feel some internal resistance against his innermost secret. He starts the book in denial, with a “surely it’s just a phase” mentality, but soon learns that the feelings that he has developed for Tomas are real and here to stay. This is especially in contrast with how he was with his soon to be ex-girlfriend at the start of the book.

The Boy From Mish also covers the topic of racism which First Nations Australians experience everyday, with the white people starting fights with Jackson and his mates. There were also a lot of microaggressions that were brought up, such as how there is a separate beach for the white people and the Black people. While this can be a difficult topic to broach, it is all brought up naturally and conversationally in Gary’s writing style.

I also liked the exploration into Indigenous culture and being one with your people, through the Men’s club that Jackson participates in. He talks a lot about his community and the respect for his elders and the country, and then later, what it means to be queer within the community.

Set during summer break between Grade 11 and 12, there’s also a bit of partying and teens having a good time with a bit of alcoholism and smoking joints. At one point, Jackson is also arrested for starting a fight with someone due to a racist slur, and it was interesting hearing from his perspective about having to go through the system.

The Boy From Mish is a heartfelt coming of age story with #ownvoices queer Indigenous representation. It covers a sensitive part in a teenager’s life when they discover that they might be queer, and explores what this means within the Indigenous community. I thought it was raw, beautifully written and definitely a must read for YA readers out there.

Full review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews!

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Andreas.
136 reviews21 followers
November 14, 2021
This book is amazing. I love the story and I love the writing.

It’s the coming-of-age and coming-out story of Jackson, a Indigenous black boy in Australia, who lives in the Mish, a fictitious neighborhood. He’s struggling with his place in society and with his sexuality.

The writing is fantastic. It’s fast paced and detailed. The whole story takes place in the span of just a few days, but there’s a lot going on. It’s told in first person present tense narration and it feels like following Jackson with a steadicam. It’s so vivid. And we always know where we are and how it looks and feels like.

Some authors could take notes from this. I’ve read my fair share of books, even from big names, where it felt like always walking through empty rooms. This book is like a blessing, because not only has it a fantastic story but also great writing. Truly amazing.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
March 7, 2022
4.5 stars

Gary Lonesborough's debut novel is a powerful story about having the courage to be your true self.

Jackson lives in in aboriginal community in Australia called the Mish. He has good, loyal friends, a loving family, a girlfriend, but he feels at odds with himself, feelings he tries to drown with alcohol and mischief. Dealing with the whites in the community who treat Jackson and his friends with racist disdain is hard enough, but he has to keep himself in check or he’ll wind up in juvie.

Jackson’s aunt comes to visit, bringing his cousins as well as Tomas, a troubled boy who’s been staying with her. Tomas shares Jackson’s room, which starts out as an annoyance because of his personal space, but becomes even more of a distraction when Jackson realizes what his feelings for Tomas really are.

When the two boys realize their feelings are identical, Jackson has to decide what to do. Will living his truth mean having to leave the Mish and lose his family and friends? What should he do, hide his feelings and the truth of who he is? Can he be happy that way?

Ready When You Are was a beautifully told book. While the story is familiar in some respects, I’ve never read a story that takes place in an Aboriginal community before, especially with these themes. I worried the plot might get too tragic or melodramatic and I was so happy it didn’t; this was a story with characters I rooted for.

Thanks so much to Pride Book Tours, Gary Lonesborough, and Scholastic Inc./PUSH for inviting me on the tour for this book and providing me a complimentary copy in exchange for an unbiased review!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2021 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2022/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2021.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,882 followers
December 13, 2021
“Go to your elders. You should ask them about your country and your totem. Because that is your identity. A blackfella with no identity is a lost blackfella. He don't know where he belongs.”

Really, really good. It's unfortunate how rare queer First Nations Australian fiction is. I really liked both the characters and how the author carefully and thoughtfully explored the tension the main character felt reconciling his culture and sexuality while feeling supported in his community. As a rural Aussie, I felt this book had many recognisable characters to me, in comparison to a lot of OzYA which is still set in inner city Melbourne or Sydney.

This was one of my 2021 must reads, and I'm very glad I got to it. A powerful and unique YA story which I think people from across the world, but especially in Australia, should read.
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
652 reviews88 followers
October 8, 2021
Go to your elders. You should ask them about your country and your totem. Because that is your identity. A blackfella with no identity is a lost blackfella. He don't know where he belongs.

I absolutely loved this book a lot! it had so many good key ingredients to make it such a good aussie YA novel and one of the few good ones that i've read so far.

Jackson is the main character of the book who is a first nations australian who's dealing with day to day teenage stuff and also coming to terms with the fact that he might be gay or whatever he identifies as. This book deals with many issues that Indigenous Australians go through in day to day life and i think there should be more books by indigenous authors in australia especially for YA readers.

I loved getting a glimpse into the indigenous culture that i'm slightly familiar with but Gary fills this book with so much of it that i got to learn more about it while enjoying the story. Jackson is involved with the mens club and also respects his elders and his country and how that plays along with the queer community. This book also deals with racism and the ongoing issues with white Australia that is still relevant in today's society with the blatant blame towards Jackson and his friends and how they deal with it being a big process.

Jackson also deals with the internalised homophobia within himself but also amongst his friends as he deals and struggles with his own sexuality. I loved the journey that Jackson took over the course of the book with coming to terms of who he is and exploring that in the process and i can say that Jackson talking to his mates and his mates attitude are also some of the things i've experienced in real life especially in high school so it's still here today.

Family is a big focus point of the book which i loved getting to know not only Jackson but getting to know his family and friends as well with each character getting somewhat of a chance to shine. The relationship between Jackson and Tomas is also a very interesting and complex one to dive into because they are both similar but also very different in many ways as they both try wrap their heads around the fact that they might not be just straight. I found these two such a good pairing and would have love to have got more time with the two but i'm glad for what was in this book.

Overall i really enjoyed the book and having that australian background with that Indigenous queer own voices story that's coming of age. The writing and plot are both really well done however i would have to have just that tiny bit more and i feel like i could do with another story focused on these two characters because i feel like there's room for more.
Profile Image for David.
579 reviews137 followers
March 25, 2022
Jackson is an indigenous Koori living in the Mish in Australia. We quickly learn he is having difficulty with his girlfriend. He gets along great with his two male friends, and also feels the pressure of his totem (heritage) as he squashes his internal thoughts that conflict with traditional norms.

I constantly felt like I was in Australia. The heat, the wild-life, the casual laid-back days down at the river, night time parties with friends where bare feet and camp fires are standard. The drinking age in Australia is 18, so even at 17, all the teen parties have alcohol with only simple warnings from parents. The indigenous people know they will probably be pulled over and searched if they drive, so they are very careful to never be questionable in a car.

I like the way this relatively short book does not do a data-dump on the characters to allow you to quickly get to know them. Personalities and histories are revealed nicely in conversations and actions. There is minor tension between the local black and white crowds. Jackson has some pent-up anger that comes out when provoked by white red-neck Ethan verbally. But we hear Jackson and his crowd mixing quite well at the evening parties where white vacationer teens mingle and dance with whoever they want.

Jackson's family is a led by a single mom. He becomes even more appreciative of her as his Aunt Pam arrives with Tomas and 8 young cousins for the holidays. Tomas is on release from Juvie per participation in a law-breaking activity revealed later in the book. This adds some bad-boy/mysteriousness to Tomas.

This beautiful story got some tears of happiness in my eyes before mid-book. But this happiness has its bumps in the second half. These real-world relationship difficulties of understanding sexual orientation are perfectly described. This is the real 5* factor in this tale.

The value of family and friends shines clearly here, which checks my 5* feelings again. This is the positive kind of book we want to encourage to readers of all ages.

The fact that I finished this book in one day shows the power of this story on my heart.
Profile Image for K..
3,667 reviews1,006 followers
August 11, 2022
Trigger warnings: racism, violence, homophobia, racial slurs, alcohol abuse, vomit, drug use, assault.

I freaking love this book. Like, a LOT.

This book was so freaking precious. I just...I'd seen all the rave reviews and somehow I still didn't expect to fall utterly in love with this. It deals very effectively with racism towards First Nations Australians, and the ongoing systemic problems faced by the community - the prevalence of incarceration and arrests, loss of community and connection to Country, increased health risks, reduced access to education. And, on top of all of that, the fear of being different when community means everything.

Lonesborough's writing is gorgeous, and I adored both Jackson and Tomas as characters. The dynamic between them and the way it grows and changes over the course of the story? *chef's kiss* The secondary characters are great. The way art is incorporated into the story is great. The romance is great.

It's Own Voices for both the First Nations representation AND the LGBTQIA+ representation, and while it took me a couple of chapters to get into it, I ultimately loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to see what Lonesborough writes next.
Profile Image for Ceyrone.
318 reviews19 followers
February 24, 2021
This is such an amazing debut, loved every moment of this book. A funny and heart-warming queer Indigenous YA novel that is set in a rural Australian community. This book follows Jackson, a seventeen year old, who is aboriginal who grew up in the Mish with his family. His Aunty and cousins come up to stay for Christmas and this time, she brought Tomas, another aboriginal kid who has just come out of juvie and is in the care of the Aunt to help him stay out of trouble. At first, Jackson is forced to spend time with Tomas and by showing him the beautiful beaches, lakes and the forest around town, their bond grows until Jackson can no longer deny his feelings. He is confused and scared and believes that no one will love and accept him for who he really is, if they find out. Such a beautiful journey of self discovery and self-acceptance and self-love.

‘Usually, when we call someone something, like what he called you, it’s because we don’t understand. And we don’t understand, we get scared. So we try to make things normal again and we attack what’s making us scared. It just makes things worse.’
Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews190 followers
March 1, 2022
Thank you to Pride Book Tours and Scholastic for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own.

I really enjoyed this one. Made me so soft.

Ready When You Are is the US publication of The Boy from the Mish. It's the story of young Jackson, an Aboriginal Australian young man. He's finished his second to last year of high school and he doesn't know if he'll go back after the summer break. When his family comes to visit for Christmas, he doesn't expect Tomas, a boy his auntie is looking after. The two are forced to spend time together and as they begin to open up to each other, they both realize there might something different than friendship between them.

This was a really beautiful story of questioning and coming out. Jackson has so many factors he has to consider before he can even think about coming out. His culture is not outwardly homophobic, but the fear of being shut out is hard to overcome in a small group where there are almost zero queer people. This story really shows how much damage queer invisibility can do. There are so many invisible obstacles and having no one as a role model can make it even harder.

I'm really glad I read this book because I loved getting a look in Aboriginal culture and history. Jackson's culture and identity is important to him. He spends time in his Koori men's group and seeing spaces like this was amazing. The world needs more spaces like this for marginalized groups, especially groups with intersectional identities. I loved seeing Jackson connect to his people and traditions through stories and art.

Jackson and Tomas's relationship was so well developed. Both of them are unsure of each other and themselves, but I loved seeing them navigate it together. The ending was a bit sad and emotional but there was so much hope for the future. I hope we get more stories like this and ones with queer Aboriginal characters achieving their dreams or in SFF stories!

Aboriginal Australian (Koori) gay-questioning male MC, Aboriginal Australian (Koori) gay-questioning male love interest, multiple Aboriginal Australian side characters, white gay male side character.

CWs: Homophobia/homomisia, racism, racial slurs, alcohol consumption (underage), cursing, drug use (marijuana), violence, police brutality, hate crime, colonisation. Moderate: sexual content, outing, vomit, bullying, blood, injury/injury detail. Minor: Alcoholism, addiction, past mentions of domestic abuse, suicidal thoughts, medical content.
Profile Image for XXK.
520 reviews14 followers
December 31, 2020
Amazing to read an own voices book about an Aboriginal protagonist, not to mention a queer Aboriginal protagonist! More please!! Really loved reading from the perspective of Jackson, a thoughtful artist who still very much felt and read like a rowdy teenager. Seeing his relationship develop with Thomas was lovely and, despite occurring over a relatively short time period, didn’t feel too rushed. It was also awesome to get a bit of a glimpse into Aboriginal culture. The Boy from the Mish is definitely a read to look out for in 2021.
Profile Image for Madeline.
515 reviews19 followers
April 24, 2022
My third queer read of the year!

This one is tough to review. It's not that the themes aren't important, or the concepts discussed are portrayed poorly. I just didn't 'click' with this book.

Lonesborough does an amazing job at discussing crucial issues facing both the LGBTQIA+ and Aboriginal communities. Thomas and Jackson are well-rounded and dynamic.

My issue stems from the pacing of the book; it just feels like Lonesborough wanted to squeeze everything in! Which, at times, makes the book boring or very very very slow.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,334 reviews226 followers
February 20, 2022
Reread via audio February 2022

"If we don't let ourselves be who we are, love who we are, where we come from, it'll strangle ya until you can't fight it no longer."

This book is such a joy. I actually read the Australian edition last year that some of you may recognize as The Boy From the Mish. Ready When You Are is the US release of the same novel.

This story is such a soft, sweet, and heartfelt exploration of identity while also tackling tougher topics and the intersection of different identities. Jackson is an Aboriginal boy from the Mish and when his Aunty brings the mysterious Tomas from juvie with her for their Christmas vacation, Jackson is forced to confront his own sexuality. Jackson starts off this book dating a girl and he and his buddies are pretty judgmental towards anyone different than themselves. They're outwardly homophobic, but because we get this from Jackson's POV, we see his discomfort with his friends actions. His story is one of finding courage to be true to himself while also working through some internalized homophobia and some cultural assumptions of sexuality.

Then there's the stunning atmospheric writing. Sometimes you're lucky enough to find a book where it feels like each and every word was precisely placed to provide an emotional response. This book is one of those. Each word is purposeful and the writing brings you into the story right next to Jackson and Tomas. You feel the water and smell the rain. You can see the graphic novel they draw and hear the laughter of playful kids. You experience the pain and joy that comes along with exploring sexuality and embracing it.

I adore this one and am so grateful to @pridebooktours for letting me be a part of the US tour for Ready When You Are 🥰

Because I had the audiobook of TBFTM, I did some comparisons with the US edition and was pleased to see that very few words were changed. The few I noticed were "ute" changed to "truck" and "singlet" to "tank top". There are a few others but the vast majority are left as they were.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read Gary Lonesborough's debut, the quote I listed at the beginning is one of my favorites and I hope it convinces you to jump into this book.
Profile Image for Gordon Ambos.
Author 3 books56 followers
January 22, 2023
Das war eine sehr schöne Coming-of-Age-Geschichte. Ich mochte es sehr, dass wir hier Australien als Setting und zwei aboriginale Protagonisten haben. Zeitweise war ich von der Menge an Nebencharakteren überfordert und auch die internalisierte Homophobie am Anfang war nicht ganz mein Thema. Trotzdem ein tolles Jugendbuch!

CW: Homophobie, Rassismus, unfreiwilliges Outing
Profile Image for Kate.
870 reviews124 followers
March 25, 2021
A bold and brilliant story following Jackson, a young indigenous man, who is enjoying the summer holidays between Year 11 and 12 but with the arrival of mysterious 'city boy' Tomas, the summer turns into a struggle with attraction, his sexuality, and deciding on the future he wants for himself.

The writing has a balanced duality of honesty to the characters and age group, and clarity in the conflict and storytelling. It is truly a remarkable read and one that fills a necessary void for LGBTQIA+ indigenous youth to feel recognised and see themselves in a YA novel. I am keen to read more.
Profile Image for Bianca Breen.
46 reviews9 followers
February 5, 2021
Oh my god. What a story. I loved this just as much as I knew I would. The writing and emotions in this book are so honest and raw and truly engaging, some of Jackson’s teenage small-town antics transported me back to 17 again. In an interview, Gary said that when they close the book he wants readers to remember the love story and feel like they were really in the Australian town, and that’s 100% what I’m taking with me. Jackson and Tomas’s relationship is one that is going to stay with me for a long time, and I absolutely loved seeing it develop and deepen over the course of the novel. And I loved reading about the experience of an Aborginal boy within his community, and all its ups and downs. I really can’t wait for more YA novels with Aboriginal protagonists.
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