The Origin of Me is the Sydney-set coming-of-age story of Lincoln Locke as he tries to deal with an unknown lump that grows near his behind while also 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 have gone 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 kid with divorced parents.
Unlike other coming of age stories, The Origin of Me focuses solely on Lincoln’s self-discovery and how he learns 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 interest which was very refreshing! It felt like Lincoln was a real fifteen-year-old boy with real issues he didn’t know how to deal with and were not magically solved by finding the love of his life. While there is a slight romantic plot, it isn’t heavily pursued, as Lincoln had more significant worries than getting together with a girl – he has a nub on his bum and a book that seems eerily similar to his own life to deal with.
All he wanted was for his life to go back to the way it was – married parents, a close group of friends and being allowed to surf. No matter how he tries, Lincoln learns things cannot return to the way they were, especially with a tail slowly growing out of him. The only thing he can do is move forward while hiding the extra part of him — which led to several comical situations.
Bernard Gallate’s debut novel does a superb job of illustrating how hard making friends can be and how easy it is to fall into the wrong group when you are lonely. Gallate also highlights the importance of family during one’s teenage years. Though Lincoln and his parents fought and argued a few times, at the end of the day, they forgive each other and more importantly, Gallate’s representation of communication between parent and child was true to reality. It’s rare to find parents in books who feel human instead of otherworldly beings or obstacles who exist to make their child’s life difficult. We need more caring parents in novels, please!
The Origin of Me is a funny, heartwarming story that celebrates learning to laugh at oneself and is perfect for those who want to see relationships between friends and family take the limelight in a story.
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 17 March 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Personal Rating: ⅘