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Boe. Burma Born. Bright Boy. Brisbane Bred. Buranda Bellringer. Bold Barrister. Brave Book. The Truth Hurts reveals Andrew Boe’s philosophical development as a lawyer and contemporary thinker.  From migrant origins to young law clerk, he is now one of the most sought-after barristers in Australia.

Boe didn’t set out to write a book. He was penning reflections about a troubling case: Damien, his client, faced a manslaughter trial after inflicting tribal punishment which went fatally awry. Damien’s people, from the Gibson Desert, had no contact with White Australia until the 1980s. Since then, the community had become a dystopian nightmare at the edge of the rest of the world.

His characters stem from diverse edges of society, particularly its bruised edges; Indigenous youth, battered women, social outcasts, the intellectually impaired, indefinitely-detained stateless refugees, and household names such as Pauline Hanson’s confederate David Ettridge, and backpacker murderer Ivan Milat. It journeys from suburban backyards to remote communities largely unknown but housing deep social trauma; places where living conditions edge towards the Fourth World such as Yuendumu and Palm Island, blistered by racism and violent deaths. 

In 15 short stories, Boe candidly reflects on society and the justice system. He urges nuanced conversation about long overdue topics; domestic violence, systemic discrimination, Aboriginal deaths in custody, colonial disruption and consent in rape cases. But he challenges for more than that; rhetoric on the “national shame” is meaningless alongside the obvious worsening of statistics.  

Boe confronts cracked edges in the justice system and opines that our paternalistic past is no longer workable in contemporary Australia.  A system that upholds equality before the law is naïve when social equality does not exist. 

In the wake of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and greater scrutiny of judicial office, the prescience of Boe’s narrative is obvious and his call to action more urgent. Everyone, especially lawyers, ought to read this thoughtful, relevant and inspiring work.