In this tightly focused autobiography, Keneally looks back on this sixteenth year, a pivotal period of time in his life, signaling the end of his boyhood and the initial recognition of adult responsibilities. The narrative, filtered through the consciousness of the adult writer, manages to retain much of the flavor of youth. On the one hand, Keneally confesses to the reader that much of the energy that he expended on spiritual and aesthetic investigations during his teenage years was probably the result of sublimated sex, whose mysteries his rigid Catholic upbringing kept hidden from him; on the other hand, Keneally’s evocation of such landmark events as the first school dance summons up vivid images of adolescent wonderment, particularly the sights and sounds of what is generally perceived to be the relatively innocent decade of the 1950’s.
While acknowledging the sacrifices that his dapper father and ambitious mother made in sending him to a Catholic school, Keneally focuses much more attention on the contributions made by his teachers and peers to his adolescent identity. His teachers fall into two basic categories, defined by their ability to think outside the box. On the one hand, there are educators like Brother Buster Clare, who teach only to the test and discourage independent learning; on the other hand, there are those like Brother Dinny McGahan, English teacher and track coach, who introduces the author to texts outside the established...
(The entire section is 564 words.)