We Didn't Think It Through

Gary Lonesborough

We Didn't Think It Through
Allen & Unwin
4 July 2023

We Didn’t Think It Through

Gary Lonesborough

The thought comes to me: This is how I die. Dally is going to lose control and crash us into a pole or a house and we will be killed on impact.

The justice system characterises Jamie Langton as a 'danger to society', but he's just an Aboriginal kid, trying to find his way through adolescence.

Jamie lives in Dalton's Bay with Aunty Dawn and Uncle Bobby. He spends his downtime hanging out with his mates, Dally and Lenny. Mark Cassidy and his white mates - the Footy Heads - take every opportunity they can to bully Jamie and his friends. On Lenny's last night in town before moving to Sydney, after another episode of racist harassment, Jamie, Dally and Lenny decide to retaliate by vandalising Mark Cassidy's car. And when they discover the keys are in the ignition... Dally changes the plan. Soon they are all in Mark Cassidy's stolen car cruising through town, aiming to take it for a quick spin, then dump it.

But it's a bad plan. And as a consequence, Jamie ends up in the youth justice system where he must find a way to mend his relationships with himself, his friends, his family and his future.


This novel contains an incredibly powerful narrative about injustice, family, and hope. It is deeply human and is written in a way that both exposes what is wrong in our world and highlights what is good. Sixteen-year-old Jamie Langton is an ordinary teen, spending his time between school and hanging out with his mates. That is, until Jamie and his friends decide to take a racist bully’s car for a joyride. They’re caught by the police and thus begins Jamie’s experience with juvenile detention and Australia’s justice system.

With this book, Gary Lonesborough tells an important story. He brilliantly captures Jamie’s emotions: his fear for his future, his joy when spending time with his friends, and the complicated love-hate relationship he has with his biological family, having grown up in foster care. Jamie’s feelings are so raw and human that the reader can’t help imagining being in Jamie’s shoes and empathising with him.

Jamie’s story may be fictional, but his plight is one experienced by countless First Nations teenagers in Australia right now. Reading this book will open your eyes to the systemic problems facing First Nations children in our country and perhaps encourage you to push for the changes that are so desperately needed.

Given the difficult subject matter, this book is more appropriate for a slightly older demographic of 14+. It is also a book that would make for great discussions when read in a classroom setting.

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