Two-time Booker Prize-winner Peter Carey’s His Illegal Self crackles with passionate, electrifying prose and characters that leap off the page and into your psyche. Utterly captivating.
It is 1972 and Ché, a precocious seven-almost-eight-year-old boy, leads a rather bourgeois life on Park Avenue with his eccentric grandmother. His parents are young radicals in hiding from the FBI – he has never even met his father and he last saw his mother at the age of two. Ché is ecstatic when a woman called Dial – who he believes is his mother – appears at his front door to take him out for lunch. They skip the meal and Dial whisks Ché off on a serpentine adventure, luring him with the promise of a big “surprise” and the idea that he has finally found someone to love. Eventually they find themselves stranded on a turbulent hippie commune in Australia, a lonely boy and a reluctant kidnapper with no one to rely on but each other.
His Illegal Self is a love story like no other. Simultaneously sinister and endearing, the incomparable perspectives and vividness of the characters’ voices are mesmerizing. It is impossible not to be moved by the openness and innocence of this young boy, and by his willingness and inherent need to love and to trust anyone and everyone as he seeks out his parents.