REVIEW: Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough

A remarkable YA love story between two Aboriginal boys — one who doesn’t want to accept he’s gay, and the boy who comes to live in his house who makes him realize who he is.

It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It’s almost Christmas, school’s out, and he’s hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson’s Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city — but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them. As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret — a secret he thought he’d locked away for good.

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.


🔸 diverse characters 🔸

🔸 gay, indigenous, aboriginal 🔸

🔸 big families🔸

🔸 hot summers🔸


“Ready When You Are” has been on my radar for a while. It was originally published as “The Boy from the Mish” with a great cover. The book title and cover were changed for North American release. I’m including both covers with my review as I think they both have some great artwork.

This story is wonderful. There are a lot of “coming out” stories in the world of Young Adult fiction but there are not a lot that are told from the POV of an indigenous character. The main character, Jackson is Koori and is used to dealing with racism, suspicious police and the out-of-towners who appear during the summer to camp.

When Jackson’s Aunt arrives with his cousins, they have a new teen in tow named Tomas. Tomas is just out of juvie and quiet and assigned to share a bedroom with Jackson. At first, reluctant to get to know the new boy – Jackson finds that he may home some things in common with Tomas. As they get to know one another, the story is steeped in summer heat and emotion.

The two young men share a love of creativity, culture, and maybe they are attracted to one another. As the hot summer days pass by, it’s easy to get caught up in the story. The writing is simple and sweet, descriptive and the characters are real and wonderful. I loved being immersed in the world that is wrapped around these two characters.

I loved that the author managed to capture the feel of summer, the struggle of finding your way, figuring out where you belong. I really enjoyed the family members, the chaos of having the cousins around – it was all familiar to me.

A great read!


Goodreads || Author || Publisher

I borrowed a copy of Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough from my local Library

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