Banafsheh Serov's Reviews > My Brother Jack

My Brother Jack by George Johnston
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Oct 25, 10

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An Australian classic, My Brother Jack is the story of Davy and Jack Meredith, two brothers growing up in a Melbourne suburb during the years between the First and Second World War.
Born to a drunken, abusive father and a caring, loving mother, the boys are distinctively different from an early age. While the older brother Jack is a tough fighter, who drinks, swears and wenches, the younger brother Davy lives a quiet existence under the shadow of his brother, preferring the company of books.

During the depression years, the fortune of the brothers starts to change. Davy earns a good income and a growing popularity as a writer. With a glamorous wife, a new house in a new suburb and a set of fashionably desirable friends, Davy seem to have it all. Yet feeling straitjacketed by constraints of his new status, Davy yearns for the grounded simplicity and honesty of Jack’s life.

At the advent of WWII, the brothers grow further apart as Davy’s status and importance increases. With the relationship of the brothers taking 180 degrees turn, Jack looks up to his younger brother, showing the type of admiration that as youngsters, Davy felt towards jack.

Flawless and effortless prose has ensured that both My Brother Jack and its sequel Clean Straw for Nothing win the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. However, the book feels dated which may explain why it’s rarely studied anymore in the Australian schools. 3 stars
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