From the archive:

I’m now 6 books into my 52 book challenge for the year (2011). Yes. I know. I’m drastically behind and I need to improve my batting average quickly if I am to meet this goal.

What will help me on the way is if I can sustain the tremendous luck I’ve had so far with my title selection. I’ve read some fantastic books and I am enjoying reviewing them as I go. Today’s review is special as I am awarding my first 5-star endorsement to a book I want you all to read… Benjamin Law’s truly delightful The Family Law.

The easiest way to give some spoiler-free context for this review is to share the publisher’s synopsis:

Meet the Law family – eccentric, endearing and hard to resist. Your guide: Benjamin, the third of five children and a born humorist. Join him as he tries to answer some puzzling questions: Why won’t his Chinese dad wear made-in-China underpants? Why was most of his extended family deported in the 1980s? Will his childhood dreams of Home and Away stardom come to nothing? What are his chances of finding love?

Hilarious and moving, The Family Law is a linked series of tales from a wonderful new Australian talent.

There’s no science to the book reviews I have written. I’m no writer. I’m really nothing more than an armchair critic describing my reading experiences.

And this ‘review’ is as armchair as they come.

There will be no dissection of clever, crafted language here (though The Family Law is as pleasant and engaging a read). There will be no pensive reflection on themes either (though Law’s has much to offer on identity, belonging, community, heritage, mortality and self-expression).

So, you ask, what’s left to talk about if you push content and style to the side? Beyond these, what could make this a 5-star book?

Heart.

This book ‘spoke’ to me in that way that I had, until now, thought a cliché.

It caused me to laugh. To laugh loudly, breathlessly and often. Often, the humour in Law’s stories would hit me like a wall, other times it would begin with a snigger before swelling to a chuckle.

It forced me to ponder. To ponder young Benjamin’s path through the series of family stories he recounts and to ponder my childhood (and adulthood).

And it reminded me of so much of my childhood. So many good memories. Some less comfortable. All worth remembering.

The sum of these parts was a feeling that Law had written this book just for me. Occasionally even about me.

Obviously, neither is the case but if this isn’t reason enough to add a book to a list of ‘the best I know I will ever read’, I’m not sure whatever could be.

I hope this isn’t the only book I read this year which will so completely impress and delight me.

But if it is, I’ll be satisfied.

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