The Origin of Me by Benard Gallate

The Origin of Me is a funny, tender coming-of-age story by a fabulous new talent, Bernard Gallate. Fifteen years in the writing and inspired in part by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the novel tells the story of teenager Lincoln Locke, a boy searching for his origin story and his destiny alike.

Publisher: Penguin Random House
ISBN: 9780143789628

Pages: 376
Publication Date: 17 March 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD

Personal Rating:

Lincoln Locke is many things: disgruntled son to recently separated parents, tiresome younger brother to his sister Venn, new student at the elitist Crestfield Academy, unwilling member of the school’s swim relay team, and the bearer of a troubling genetic anomaly. Lincoln is curious for the answers to life’s big questions, and when he stumbles upon a vintage tome by Edwin Stroud, a one-time star of Melinkoff’s Astonishing Assembly of Freaks, he begins to find some of those answers.

As Lincoln steps into Edwin’s shoes, he is accompanied by a cast of eccentrics, and fellow headstrong teens, on an enchanted journey across contemporary and historical Sydney informed by Bernard’s work as a teacher and guide for Sydney Learning Adventures. Lincoln’s meandering path of self-discovery helps him to unravel the mystery of Edwin’s – and his own – identity.

By turns wonderful, witty, satirical and poignant, The Origin of Me is a story about the tensions of family, the beauty of friendship, the sweetness of young love, and celebrating our differences; an ode to accepting ourselves for who we are.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me a copy of this heartwarming novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Origin of Me is the coming-of-age story of Lincoln Locke as he tries to deal with an unknown lump that grows near his bum while coping with his parent’s divorce and being forced to enrol in a new school. As he tries to find the answers to his strange anomaly, he finds a memoir of a man who seems to be going through the same growth as Lincoln. Soon he uses the memoir as an aid to deal with his own problems like trying to get out of the swim team, making new friends, dealing with the death of his grandfather, and living the life of a divorced kid.

Unlike other coming of age stories, The Origin of Me focuses solely on Lincoln’s self-discovery and learning how to form new relationships, especially friendships with people who are different from himself. Never once was Lincoln’s growth as a character tied to a romantic love interest. It was very refreshing! Lincoln felt like a real fifteen-year-old boy because he had real issues that he didn’t know how to deal with and were not magically solved by finding the love of his life. All he wanted was his life to go back the way it was with married parents, a close group of friends and being allowed to surf. No matter how hard he tries, Lincoln soon learns that things cannot go back the way they were especially with a tail slowly growing out of him. So the only thing he can do is move forward and try to live life while hiding the extra part of him — which lead to some comical situations.

Bernard Gallate debut novel does a superb job in illustrating how hard making friends can be and how easy it to fall in a wrong group of friends when you are lonely. Gallate also highlighted the importance of family during the teenage years. Lincoln and his parents fought and argued a few times, but at the end of the day, they forgave each other because they loved each other. The communication between parent and child was real, and it is so rare to find parents who feel human instead of these otherworldly beings who are just there to make the child’s life miserable. We need more caring parents in novels, please! While there is a slight romance in the story, it isn’t heavily pursued, Lincoln had more significant worries than getting together with a girl. He has a nub on his bum and a book that seems way too similar to his personal life to deal with.  

The Origin of Me is a comical and heartwarming story that is perfect for those who want to see relationships between friends and family take the limelight in a story. It celebrates family friends, accepting differences and learning to laugh at oneself.


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