I picked up Bro by Helen Chebatte particularly because it promised a) diversity, b) a fight club (!!) and c) an Australian setting. And I love Aussie books, I truly do! And I particularly love ones that acknowledge what a diverse and multi-cultural country we are. And Bro totally rules this.
About The Book:
What happens when you mix teenage boys, a fight club and ethnic rivalries? You get war. Romeo Makhlouf knows the rules. Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates or even on your enemies. Respect the family. But even unwritten rules are made for breaking. Fight clubs, first loves and family ties are pushed to the limit in Helen Chebatte’s explosive debut novel.
But despite Bro ticking a lot of “this book should be awesome” boxes…it ultimately wasn’t my kind of book. (Teenage boys, peoples, they’re just…such stinky, alien creatures.) But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good book! And I think it will definitely appeal to teens, particularly boys, and it definitely was a fast and interesting read.
Basically Romeo (yes that’s his name!) is Lebanese and falls into a lot of default rivalries at school. When the book starts, he walks you through all the “cliques”, from the Asians to the Lebanese to the Aussies to the Islanders. It’s all pretty “stick-with-the-bros-of-your-own-culture”, which I found pretty sad. But I guess not unrealistic. And the boys’ cliques were definitely like family! All the Lebanese boys absolutely stood up for each other and took exactly no hasselling from anyone else before they were out for revenge. So obviously you know where this is heading right?
Someone gets offended. FIGHTS START.
I was a bit annoyed that the big “offence” was basically over a girl. Again, realistic….But it seemed shallow to read about.
Oh and yes, and it’s very Australia. It’s absolutely stuffed with Aussie slang. I actually struggled with some of it, despite being an Aussie myself, because I’d never heard some of the phrases. But I was quite surprised it had next to no swearing in it. I felt that was the only unrealistic liberty it took…but it does make the book appropriate for any age audience, so kudos to it there.
I found the ethnic rivalries very interesting…because they seemed in place BEFORE the boys even had issues with each other. Like it’s Romeo vs Palmer. Lebanese vs Australian. The book also really talks about what it’s like to be from a different ethnicity but raised in Australia. Like are you an Aussie if you’re born in Australia, but live entirely with Lebanese culture?
Bro is definite grimy, punchy, Australian contemporary that younger teens will totally enjoy! The characters aren’t the most dimensional things I’ve ever encountered, but they do ask some BIG questions and get you thinking. Also you get to know THE BRO CODE, which — if you’re a completely deluded person like I who lives in a fantasy book — is really interesting. Also there’s Lebanese food involved. And brawls. Punchy, punchy, bro.