Because this is pretty much a story about how I stopped being an egg-headed idiot, I might as well start at the moment Kid Kabula exploded through the upstairs doors of the Victory Gardens Mall. The top part of the hill where the Kid started his ride was always called ‘the top of the hill’ and the bottom part was always called ‘the bottom of the hill’. You’re probably thinking I’m extremely stupid for explaining that, but I think it gives you an idea how imaginative people are around here. The slightly less daggy part was the top of the hill. I lived at the bottom of the hill. The Kid lived in a hole a few streets beyond that. Just behind the Victory Gardens Dog Track.
Stevie and his Uncle Boff (who isn’t his real uncle) have a business collecting ‘recyclables’, or as he calls them, ‘refundables’. It makes more sense than being at school. They and their greyhound, Bobby Dazzla, get up early, work hard and seldom miss an opportunity to turn other people’s discards into cash. Along the way they meet most Victory Gardens residents. Not that that is always a good thing. So when Kid Kabula connects in the most painful way with Fatts, leader of the Victory Rats, the biggest, meanest bikie gang around, Stevie is the one who has questions to answer. Stevie is a watcher, not a conversationalist, and he’s not quite sure what to do when it seems Kid wants to be friends. Then there’s Helen, the girl at the recycling centre with the long black hair and the big smile. It seems that it could be time to do more than just watch the world go by.
Stevie wears black Tshirt and a beanie, a uniform he prefers to any that a school might have required. It seems that in this ‘uniform’ he is able to be almost invisible, a status that has served him well. But with Kid Kabula upsetting the bikies, the local politician pulling a swifty and Helen upsetting his equilibrium, Stevie realises that being invisible and silent is a thing of the past. To survive, he’s going to have to speak up. Keepinitreal details Stevie’s journey from watcher to participant. It’s raw and funny, a rites of passage story told through Stevie’s eyes. It’s also a story of community and the ties that bind people together – enough ties in fact to trip the unwary and the unscrupulous. To add to the adventure, Keepinitreal is also the name of a greyhound of great speed and enthusiasm. Recommended for junior secondary readers.
Keepinitreal, Don Henderson
Omnibus Books 2009
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