Shortlist year: 2014

Shortlist category: Young adult literature

Published by: Giramondo Publishing

Michael’s older brother dies at the beginning of the summer he turns 15, but as its title suggests The Incredible Here and Now is a tale of wonder, not of tragedy. Presented as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Sandra Cisneros’ Young Adult classic The House on Mango Street, it tells of Michael’s coming of age in a year which brings him grief and romance; and of the place he lives in Western Sydney where ‘those who don’t know any better drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors’, and those who do, flourish in its mix of cultures.

Through his perceptions, the reader becomes familiar with Michael’s community and its surroundings, the unsettled life of his family, the girl he meets at the local pool, the friends that gather in the McDonalds parking lot at night, the white Pontiac Trans Am that lights up his life like a magical talisman. Suitable for young readers from 14 years of age.

About the author


Felicity Castagna

Felicity Castagna spent her youth living and travelling around Asia and North America before moving to Parramatta, where she has worked as a teacher, arts worker and editor for the past ten years. Her collection of short stories Small Indiscretions (Transit Lounge, 2011) was highly praised. She has won the Josephine Ulrick Literature Award and the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award.

Judges’ comments

When Michael's beloved older brother Dom dies in a car crash, Michael and his family are left with aching grief.

What an aptly titled novel this is: a vivid portrait of a teenage boy, his family and community in Sydney's western suburbs learning about life, death and love.

Writer Felicity Castagna exploits a series of vignettes to create a wholly satisfying, moving story: its short, sculpted chapters capture Michael's thoughts, moods and insights in quickening moments. Michael has the outward reticence of a teenage boy, but so much happening beneath the surface.

This is a splendid portrayal of a boy on the cusp.