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The Subjects

As we got closer I could see behind the sandstone a curved concrete building: a purpose-built structure. But still no fence, no wire. Not a bar in sight. For this, I’d been told that morning, I should be grateful. This was a ‘lifeline…a last chance’. That is what the judge said.

Daniel is a sixteen-year-old drug dealer and he is going to jail.

Then he’s not.

A courtroom intervention. A long car ride to a deluxe outback facility. Other ‘gifted delinquents’.

Where are they?

It’s not a jail.

It’s not a psych unit.

It’s not like any school he’s ever seen.

He is sure he and the others are part of an experiment. But he doesn’t know who’s running it or what they are trying to prove. And he has no idea what the next seven months are going to do to him.


2SER: Final Draft 
Guardian: The school-to-prison pipeline: how the criminal justice system fails at-risk kids (opinion)
Radio NZ 
Saturday Paper
Sydney Morning Herald 

Sarah Hopkins
About the Author

Sarah Hopkins is the author of three novels including The Crimes of Billy Fish, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She works as a lawyer in Sydney and is married with two children.

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Text publication date:
4 June 2019
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Praise for Sarah Hopkins
andThe Subjects

The Subjects is energetic and compelling from the opening pages. And in Daniel we find a voice that I was worried was disappearing from Australian fiction: unpretentious, smart and lacking in all mawkishness. It’s a joy to hear him, and it is a joy to read a book of such complex ideas that is also alert to the art of storytelling.’

‘A vivid, human (and humane) novel with an irresistible dark pull. The Subjects explores the utopian madness of social engineering in a similar way to Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things

‘Sarah Hopkins proves herself among the leading chroniclers of contemporary Australian life.’

‘This book can be read as a damning indictment of the social welfare and criminal justice systems.’

‘Raises a lot of issues that are worth reflecting on.’

Other editions ofThe Subjects