The Greenhill cricket team’s new kid, Dane Faulkner, is angry, Aboriginal, doesn’t wear a helmet, and cherishes an old bat dubbed ‘Concentrate’ due to the scrawled message on its spine. He’s also a phenom. Michael Duffy wants to figure out what makes the strange, gifted newcomer tick, but has his own problems – a blinkered father, an overprotective big sister, and impaired vision that is threatening his baggy green dream.
When a bigoted, bullying opponent is trumped using the Concentrate, a bond between the boys is forged and the source of the new kid’s freakish performances is revealed: a powerful, mystical presence within the willow itself. It is a presence Dane believes comes courtesy of his full-blood father, severely head-injured in a construction accident and rehabilitating in the family home. Michael - empathetic due to his own mother’s battle with leukaemia and the only other person ‘chosen’ to experience the Concentrate’s supernatural gift - is convinced of Dane’s claims during a late-night experiment at the local nets. Then the cricketing miracle begins to give way to the medical variety and Michael understands that, in Dane Faulkner’s world, nothing is impossible.
But what about his own world?
Convinced of Destiny’s mean streak during a disastrous audition for higher honours, and having abandoned his promises of playing for Australia, Michael carries the dormant bat into his last ever innings – the district grand final. Is there life still remaining in the dream? Is there alchemy still to be witnessed?
Perhaps if he can concentrate...
Concentrate is a story of faith after loss, determination after setback and hope after defeat. Combining the best elements of magic realism and young adult literary fiction, it contends there is no more powerful thing in this world as heartfelt belief.
Concentrate was shortlisted in the 2009 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.
- TBG, April 2012
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