Review: The Rules of Backyard Cricket

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Darren Keefe is not having a great day. When we meet him he is gagged, bound, has been shot in the knee and has been shoved in the boot of a car. Darren begins to reflect on his life and how he has ended up in this position.

Darren reminisces through the highs and lows of his life, his mum who sacrificed everything for her boys, his difficult relationship with his brother and their love of cricket, the high life he enjoyed while playing professionally and the trouble that his excesses landed him in much to his brother’s shame and embarrassment.

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This unassumingly titled book sure packs a whallop. Serong’s characters leap off the page. He beautifully captures the stress of the single parent family, and the life long friction between two brothers who both want to be the best. Darren and Wally are both great at cricket and the competition they feel with the other far outstrips what they feel against anyone else. Wally is the serious, up tight older brother. Darren is younger, wilder, more irresponsible. And so they journey together into the bright and shining world of professional cricket with all the distractions that entails.

While Wally is the picture of seriousness and responsibility, Darren is his polar opposite. Craigo, a mate since childhood, can get Darren whatever he wants – drinks, drugs, women, nothing is out of the question, despite how much his behaviour angers Wally.

This book is about family and the ties that bind, sacrifice and cricket. Serong’s writing is sharp, snappy and has that great Aussie sense of humour and self deprecation. Each chapter opens with Darren’s progress in the boot of the car before delivering you back to the past, keeping the tension levels high and drawing you in to the drama, of which there is plenty.

You don’t need to be a cricket fan to enjoy this book, but you may need and Aussie to English dictionary occasionally.

4 out of 5 Rolando’s fractures.

With thanks to Netgalley and Text Publishing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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