I was lucky enough to be given a review copy of Eleven Seasons by Paul D Carter. It has just won the 2012 The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under 35. There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book on Twitter just hours after it won, so I found myself intrigued.

Let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The imagery of Melbourne in the 80’s, especially being that football mad, brought back lots of memories. Being a Collingwood supporter (and as I found out later so is Paul), I remember the finals where we lost to the powerhouse teams of that decade.

This leads me on to the main character – a young boy named Jason. He is an avid Hawthorn fan at a time when they were dominant. He revels in the wins and knows, with all his heart and soul, he will be playing in that team alongside Dipper, Dermie, Tuckie and the Rat.

Paul has created somebody that you find yourself caring for, as he struggles with school and a mother that works too many shifts, saving for that great Australian dream – a house in the sticks. Football soon becomes his life and his means of changing his world. You want to see him succeed and reach that goal of running onto the field with Hawthorn. And he gets close to it.

But then….

I am not going to spoil it any more than that for you. The writing style of this book is light, but do not think that it is light-hearted. It has guts to it and reminds me of Zusack. There is an elegance which will keep you turning pages much too quickly and before you know it, the book is gone. It took me only two sittings to read it and I wished for more.

So, if you enjoy Australian fiction, especially football mad Melbourne during the 80’s and 90’s, this book should be on your shopping list. Published by Allen & Unwin and available at all good bookstores now.

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