Bush Telegraph - 2021-10-11


Story would work better as a movie


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. This is a debut New Zealand novel about gang life, written by a white GP. He’s based it on what he saw as a doctor in Te Karaka, seeing those who live this life in a poor part of the country. It started life as an independent film, which Whittet wrote and directed, which has apparently done well on the film festival circuit and won several awards. As a novel though, it doesn’t work quite as well. Aroha is born into gang life in the 1970s as the daughter of a notorious gang leader, and is pledged to marry her cousin Hunapo. She longs to escape the life, and its brutal tattoos of young boys, viscious beatings and shootings. The writing has far too many adjectives to work as a tough story about love, betrayal and redemption. And at more than 400 pages it’s too long. Something about the writing doesn’t feel authentic, but it would probably work as a film. I’ll wait for the movie. — Linda Thompson


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