Mountain Wolf by Roseanne Hawke
Last year I reviewed Hawke’s novel Marrying Ameera. It was a book I found absolutely shattering, even horrifying. This year she has returned to her Pakistan setting with another tale of child abuse and misuse. This is not a book for the faint hearted.
Radaq is a young man who loves his life in the mountains. He works hard to support his family and although only 15, he is looking forward to marriage to the girl his parents have chosen. This is the way life should be. Then the mountain is shaken by an earthquake and his whole family is killed. Alone and in shock, he is easy prey for a man who claims he will provide him freev transport to the city to find his uncle. The transport is free all right, but instead of his uncle, a life of slavery is ahead. First he is sold to a man running a tea shop, but very quickly his good looks catch the eye of another adult and he is sold on and trained in the art of massage, and ‘whatever’.
This is not a warm fuzzy comfortable read. Hawke is determined to shake up the reader’s world view and make them think. Unfortunately, I don’t think Radaq is as strong a character as Ameera, so the message isn’t as effective. But realistic fiction for young people is a lot more unusual than it used to be, and this is realism in the extreme. The book is short, and that will appeal to modern Australian boys. Maybe it will help them understand those from other cultures that come to live in their neighbourhood.