Lisa's Reviews > To the Highlands

To the Highlands by Jon Doust
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's review
Jan 21, 2016

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bookshelves: australia, 12review, c21st
Read from July 25 to 29, 2012

My goodness, this is a confronting novel! While the title was apparently deliberately chosen to echo Randolph Stow’s To the Islands, and the setting shares some geophysical similarities, Jon Doust’s new novel pursues existential issues of an entirely different kind.

Doust made his literary debut with Boy on a Wire, which was longlisted for the Miles Franklin in 2010. This novel, To the Highlands, is book two of what will become a trilogy called One Boy’s Journey to Man, and like book one, it is a work of fiction woven from the author’s own experiences. While Boy on a Wire was an expose of the brutality of boarding schools in the 1960s, To the Highlands follows the same character into early adulthood, where the line between victim and perpetrator becomes blurred.

Narrated in the first person by the central character Jack Muir, To the Highlands is a coming-of-age story which charts some very bad behaviour indeed. Jack, (like the author), has failed his final year at a posh grammar school in Perth, disappointing his respectable parents and embarrassing his successful brother who’s studying law and will also be a respectable adult one day. Jack’s father uses his influence to get Jack a job in the Colonial Bank of Australia, and when he makes a mess of that because ‘numbers are not his strong point’, that influence is used to pack him off to work in a New Guinea branch of the bank.

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07/25/2012 page 37

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