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BOOK REVIEW: The Way We Roll by Scot Gardner

| 24 February 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Way We Roll by Scot Gardner 

Allen & Unwin
February 2016
Paperback, $19.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult




Will went to a private school and owns a Rolex, but now he spends his days pushing shopping trolleys and nights hiding out in the crawl-space below a bowling alley. He plays things close to his chest, but he’s obviously hiding from something in his past.

Someone was bowling on the seventeenth lane – the one right above my bed. Balls intermittently growled past and collided musically with the pins. Another strike. And another. Bowling is more interesting from beneath the floorboards. There’s no winning or losing, no shoe hire or scoring and no artificial tension. From my bed I got the rolling thunder and the wooden chimes of success. I got the steampunk rhythms of the pin-setting machines and ball return and I could enjoy it all with my eyes closed.

At work, he’s making friends so very far removed from those he grew up with. Julian in particular is part slob, part thug, part… really decent but tragically inappropriate guy.

‘I’m not sure about eating a stranger’s leftovers.’
‘They’re not strangers, Will. They’re hotties you haven’t hooked up with yet.’
I looked around. People ate. I sat down.
Julian inspected a serviette then wiped his mouth with it. ‘I ask myself, “Would I get nasty with that woman?” If the answer is yes, then eating her lunch is like fast-forwarding to the good bits. Sharing spit can be gross or horny – you choose.’

Julian and his friends are teaching Will how to soften up and “grow some balls” simultaneously – no mean feat – but the resulting story is a rather cute and endearing one.


The blurb of this book promises action and intrigue. The cover of this book promises a goat and a stolen phone. Sadly none of these things come into play at all until the last third of the book, so it’s a rather misleading blurb, and the whole tone of the story feels off from what was promised.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad read. Not at all, in fact. This reader devoured it in one sitting. The writing is engaging and easy, the events within are entertaining, and the character relationships are the glue that holds it all together.

The blurb also promises bromance and friendship and a reassessment of what makes a family, and on this the book does deliver.

Unfortunately, it still feels like there’s something missing.

This is only a 200 page novel (197 to be exact), and it does fly by. There are laugh out loud moments, and as much as you might try to put this book down, you won’t be able. But perhaps this is exactly why something feels… absent.

In giving the reader a whirlwind ride and a book they can’t put down, it feels as though the author has shaved a lot of the meat off the bones. Yes, there is the bromance, and there’s the “found family” situation with Will being taken in by Julian early on in the story, and yes there are moments of fun and hilarity, and of Julian challenging Will, and there is the mystery of what Will is hiding from. But in all honesty, they’re just snippets. They feel like they’re telling part of a story.

Perhaps some of this can be put down to the fact that the author kept hinting that the title takes place in Australia but made a conscious effort to create locations that don’t exist, using names so similar to those you might see in the real world. Perhaps the fact that this title kept trying to point out how Aussie it was, all while trying to stay completely anonymous contributed to the slightly untethered feeling.

The result is a story that is a quick read with enjoyable characters and some really gorgeous writing, but the plot points of which quickly fade from memory.

Even now, after having finished the novel only an hour ago and having read it all in one sitting, I cannot bring forth any particularly strong messages from its pages. The themes of friendship and forgiveness are there, but unfortunately there was just something… missing, and the ending felt a little flat.

I’m glad to have read it, and I really enjoyed it, but I just get the sinking feeling that if you ask me what it was about in a month or two I won’t be able to tell you.


Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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