**eBook Only** Heartfelt and poignant, this coming of age story explores father-son relationships, against a backdrop of small town rivalries, buried truths, with themes of sustainability, preserving the past and environmental care.

When Dad goes to jail, Matthew and his mum move to the coast, so mum – an artist – thinks she can renovate her late father’s old place to sell it to get them back on their feet. Matthew strikes up a friendship with Old Bill, an Indigenous man who becomes a father figure to him, and teaches him how to find and eat pippis, fish (and to make a few dollars from it). Dad gets out on parole and moves back in with the family, but his anger fractures the newfound peace and everything is once again at stake, and in peril.


Bradley Christmas is a full-time writer – and moonlighting musician – who splits his time between Sydney and his beloved beach shack on the NSW South Coast. While building his writing career he worked as a social worker, English language teacher and children’s entertainer. These days as a freelance copywriter he helps charities like Greenpeace, The Royal Flying Doctor Service and The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network share their stories. His short fiction has appeared in a number of magazines and publications including The Big Issue and received several award nominations. He can also regularly be found performing around Australia with his country band Copperline. Saltwater Boy is his first YA novel.


I honestly can’t believe this is Bradley Christmas’s first novel. Although it’s not fast paced, I didn’t feel the need to skim, I was completely absorbed in the story. Matthew is such a gorgeous protagonist. We see him grow from a quiet, often thoughtless boy to someone with so much empathy, who stands up for what he believes in. I also love when each side character has their own arc, and Christmas delivers this perfectly. There are a lot of themes packed into Saltwater Boy: domestic violence, loss, grief, disability, bullying, Indigenous rights, racism, toxic masculinity and so much more. But by showing everything through Matthew’s perspective, Christmas never makes the reader feel overwhelmed. And although there are a lot of morals to find in the story, Christmas never talks down to the reader. Instead, he inspires you to get out into nature and also to preserve and respect the environment. This is a truly touching story about friendship, family, and protecting our environment. I can see this being studied in schools. Perfect for ages 10+.


This is a terrific novel filled with great characters. With themes of doing the right thing, families growing and changing, friendships in many forms, holding grudges and learning to move on, as well as learning about Country and First Nations’ traditions, this is an ideal novel for those aged 13 to 16 years

Lamont Books

This was such a well-written Australian novel that includes story-sharing and father-son relationships. There was an amazing story-arc and I couldn’t put this down

Kaitlyn’s Library

Bradley Christmas pens a poignant and engaging story, gripping from the word go, with relatable themes of loss, family blues, crisis of identity, and finding one’s place in the world. The prose is searing and raw while still emotive with truth in every word, and every piece of subtext, as well. The characters are well-drawn, verging on real people – and Christmas has finely tuned his dialogue to be astoundingly realistic. The pulsating tension builds and rises consistently through the story, and we the reader are throttled back and forth, round and round, along with Matthew, as we go on the journey of his story. His fraught relationship with his father is a true rollercoaster of tension yet offset nicely by the tender mentorship the boy experiences with Old Bill, who is a calming leading presence in the story. While there are references to domestic violence, it is handled with care, and doesn’t overwhelm the narrative. All in all, it’s a fine debut, and clearly evident of a bright future for Bradley Christmas. I can’t wait for the next one. Perfect for teen readers. Highly recommended.

Reading Time

It has a gentleness, even amidst hostility, and a redemptive and forgiving tone that takes it away from the horrors of family violence and dysfunction.

Lamont Books


The Australian Book Industry Awards - Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year
Indie Book Awards - Young Adult
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