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Into the River Format Kindle
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"Into the River" is a quintessential coming of age story; describing the wonder of boyhood in a community that still has roots in shamanistic traditions. The boy's paradise is shattered when he goes off to school in the city and discovers the huge contradictors that society forces upon its youth in the name of education.
Apparently, the book is banned due to its language and content, but there is nothing here that most youth don't encounter in some way or another, especially in an urban school setting. Indeed, I would think having these experiences articulated in such a good story would be therapeutic and educational for youths who face similar situations.
And a good story it is. It kept my attention and was very believable, even though I have no first hand experience of the Maori experience.
That said, I had some problems with the book. There are a lot of Maori terms which probably brings the story home to those who know the terminology, but for those of not in the know it took time to look up all the new words. Also, all the adults in this book--except for the ones in the Maori community--come across as one dimensional and exclusively negative.
The tender relationship between Devon and Steph is the heart of the story, and I found myself wishing that in spite of the literary necessity of their traumatic and forced separation, that the two had found a way to continue their journey together. But, the ending is such that it calls for a sequel, and I hope the author indulges us with more tales of Te Arepa and his on going relationship with himself, Steph and the world around them.
The story is set in New Zealand and yes, it contains some sexual material in terms of implying male masturbation and sexual intedcorse between two young teenagers in a social setting. It is neither prurient nor sensationalist, treats the rhythms of life in a natural and normal manner and these events that have drawn such attention to the book are simply part of the side story - not a feature.
This book has obvious literary qualities, is contemporary and should take its place as a study text in english literature classes. The facility to analyse both the writing, the story construction, the language and the nuancing of the author is superb and will add to the formal education of young people.
It is relevant, at least to New Zealand, and quite probably to the english speaking parts of the world, brining Maori culture and issues into some sort of perspective through the eyes of a young teenager.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.