5.0 out of 5 stars Ballina Boy, February 26, 2011
By Anne Thackeray
This review is from: BALLINA BOY (Paperback)
Ballina Boy is a fascinating and detailed record of a childhood in an Australian coastal town in
the middle of last century. It speaks to the reader on many different levels and tracks the
development of a deeply philosophical approach to life. As a child, some of the mental
gymnastics Allen used in figuring out religion and the meaning of life cut through the dross of
spin and political correctness to a sharp reality. He describes many experiences lost to
children today while at the same time painting a broad brush stroke view of an upbringing
which created resilience, tolerance, curiosity and independence. Allen's main focus seems to
be his love and admiration for his father and his achievements yet with whom in the end
there seemed to be some unfinished business. There are some wonderful anecdotes that
bring this story alive and some dry humour that is very amusing. The picture of Allen's father
inviting a theatrical troupe home for drinks is particularly engaging. To be married to a
somewhat itinerant medical man, bring up a family in the rugged environment that was
Australia in the fifties and survive to tell the tale took a particular kind of woman and the
portrait of the writer's mother does not disappoint. This is a book written with love and affection and a particularly intelligent and insightful sensitivity that makes it a pleasure to read.
The Ballina Boy is an insightful autobiography packed with many facts as well as memories and reflections. I totally enjoyed reading it and found it very easy to read in the author's voice. This confronting yet conpassionate book disclosed much about Dr Roger Allen as a child of the fifties and, on every page, it presented many other incidential facts to challenge the reader and present them with a lot more to think about and to question. I enjoyed the fact I was reading more than just a typical self-narrative. The world began on a Thursday, is typical of Roger's great sense of humour which often came through as does his amazing intellect. How horrific the plough accident must have been for Roger's mother!
Well done Roger! I look forward to reading the next book about your later years!
By Liz Mason, February 23 2011
Source: Dr Roger KA Allen's blog
For those readers who have grown up in the Fifties and are of ” the baby boomer” era in Australia, reading Ballina Boy will be a heartfelt experience. It will evoke many fond memories of the freedom and innocence that we children had when growing up, before the advent of television and ICT, and the like. Life was tough, by today's standards, but it had much to offer, especially through imagination, inventiveness and innovation derived from very basic and unsophisticated resources available to children in those days.
Roger Allen has laid his soul bare for all to see, warts and all in his novel. Parts of the book are raw and confronting, with a hint of mixed feelings pervading it. Without the blend of the impractical,restless yet tenacious academic of his father and the organised, practical and resourceful traits of his mother, interwined with the successes and failures of his forebears what would the author be now? Roger comes to the realisation at the conclusion of his book that it is not the material but the experiences, relationships and complexities of life that enrich us all and make our journey worthwhile.
An inciteful and analytical autobiography, that stirs all readers to consider that the word "dysfunctional" so often bandied around these days about any family, is a misnoma. A family is merely a group of people going about the business of living, trying to do the best job of it they can, without the advantage of hindsight and hoping to leave a small mark behind on this vast world for future generations.
Well done Roger.
By K Taylor, January 5 2011
Source: Dr Roger KA Allen's blog