Aussie Author Challenge Book Reviews

Book Review: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

book review boy swallows universe

Twelve-year-old Eli Bell lives a complicated life. He doesn’t know where his father is, his older brother August is mute, his mum is a drug addict and his stepdad is a heroin dealer. Oh, and his babysitter is a notorious criminal, Slim Halliday, who has attempted to break out of gaol several times. Eli is trying to understand what it is to be a good person, follow his dreams and communicate nonverbally with his brother. But life loves to throw curveballs.

One of those just happens to be a run-in with Tytus Broz, the infamous Brisbane drug dealer. As a result, Eli’s life is about to get more complicated. He’s about to meet a dad he doesn’t remember, break into gaol to rescue his mum on Christmas day, deal with the same criminals who ripped his life apart, and fall in love with the girl of his dreams. All during his teenage years.

Boy Swallows Universe is Dalton’s debut novel. And what a heartwarming debut it is. I fell in love with Eli and August and their complicated life. The relationship they share is unique, one where words are not needed to communicate and yet, where words can mean so much. With a touch of magic and a good dose of reality in a rough Brisbane neighbourhood in the eighties, Dalton beautifully narrates even the most horrific of events. Eli is a wonderful character and you can’t help but fall in love with him. His lofty dreams are believable; his combination of innocence and street-wiseness makes you root for him all the way. You worry for him, you egg him on. You want to see him overcome the odds. And you long for him to not suffer.

You will experience a rollercoaster of emotions while reading this book – fear, love, joy, excitement, horror, sadness – all of it. And if you are anything like me, you might even shed some tears from the overwhelm of it all.

My rating:

Where to find the author:

Instagram | Twitter |

***Read and reviewed for the 2018 Aussie Author Challenge. Also linking with the Lovin’ Life Linky with Deb, Min, Jo and others***

Until next time,

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  • Shalzmojo
    25 October 2018 at 2:13 pm

    You had me with the cover and the name of the book. And then the plot unfolded – WOW!!! What a genius one this seems to be. The thought process of this kid is what has intrigued me the most and I am keen to peruse this book for just that.

    Smashing review as always Sanch! 🙂

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      25 October 2018 at 6:43 pm

      If it’s not out in India, let me know; I shall bring you a copy

  • Janet Mary Cobb
    26 October 2018 at 1:28 am

    I’ll be looking for this book for sure!

  • Joanne Tracey
    26 October 2018 at 10:16 am

    I’ve heard good things about this book. It’s way out of my normal reading genre, but I might just pick it up at the airport tomorrow on the basis of your review.

  • Shalini R
    26 October 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Wow! A five-star from you means the book is so good! I absolutely loved the cover. It’s so bright! 🙂 I hope I can get this book here in India at a not-so-ridiculous price. I’m not able to afford ‘To all the boys I’ve loved before’ because it is a 1000 bucks! :/

  • Deborah
    26 October 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I’m not sure but for some reason I was thinking this book was non-fiction! I’ve heard good things about it but obviously not paid enough attention.

    It sounds a little reminiscent of Anna Spargo Ryan’s The Gulf, which I really enjoyed.
    Deborah recently posted…Book review: Where the River Runs by Fleur McDonaldMy Profile

  • Shilpa Gupte
    26 October 2018 at 6:03 pm

    More than the book, I wanted to read the way to review a book! 🙂 So easy to grasp the idea behind the story and what one should expect. My book reviews tend to stretch and end up pretty lengthy, I feel.

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      26 October 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks Shilpa! That’s very kind of you. I think I’ve honed my book reviews over the years 🙂

  • Natasha
    26 October 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Intrigued. Will look out for this one.
    Thanks Sanch, for the review.

    https://natashamusing.com/2018/10/another-gem-in-the-wall-wordlesswednesday/
    Natasha recently posted…Another Gem in the Wall: #WordlessWednesdayMy Profile

  • Denyse Whelan
    27 October 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Darn it, you loved it. It’s on my wishlist for Audible and I keep hesitating. Thanks so much for sharing. Denyse x

  • Weekly Gratitude 2018 43/52 - Sanch Writes
    28 October 2018 at 8:12 am

    […] Dalton reading my post about his book and leaving a lovely tweet – I don’t know how he found it because I […]

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    28 October 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Sounds great! Definitely intrigued #teamlovinlife