The Origin of Me
Bernard Gallate
Vintage, $32.99

It starts off with a little brown spot on the base of his spine, but Lincoln Locke is not aware of it until his 15th birthday. And what looks like a birthmark tingles into a nub and then, ever so slowly, into something more distinct. If such an unexpected growth wasn’t distressing enough, he’s been moved from his public school in Sydney’s north to the other side of the bridge, to the private ‘‘Crestfield Academy for the Exceedingly Gifted and Dangerously Privileged’’.

Bernard Gallate's The Origin of Me is shot through with whimsy and imagination.

Bernard Gallate’s The Origin of Me is shot through with whimsy and imagination.Credit:

This befuddled lab rat in the school maze also has to travel back and forth to be with his recently separated parents, and after the death of his beloved grandfather he even starts hearing voices in his head, a cantankerous bossyboots who’s a bit like a ‘‘life coach with a mean streak’’. It’s fair to say Lincoln’s a little bit discombobulated by life’s many changes.

As its title suggests, Bernard Gallate’s debut novel is an origin story, a tale about self-identity. Written in the first person in a light and breezy tone, the book’s young narrator shares many tropes of the angsty teenager world view, but despite being sarcastic, cynical and smart (alecky), Lincoln is a gentle modern-day Holden Caulfield; just as sensitive as Salinger’s protagonist, perhaps, but not terribly rebellious.

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