Power is a central theme to Sonya Hartnett’s novel ’All My Dangerous Friends. Each of the characters either have total power but are at risk of losing it, or they are seeking power. Some characters remain powerless throughout the story. Their control ranges from physical to psychological and sometimes their status is a result of knowledge or association. Characters without power attempt to promote themselves through dramatic and often violent ways.
Sasha is central to the theme of power within the story. He is a young and popular leader of a criminal fraternity – making his way through violent and illegal acts; “Sasha was ringleader and mastermind.” Anyone who crosses Sasha will come to regret it as he mercilessly seeks revenge. A road rage incident ends up with Sasha hurling a sour pint of milk through his enemy’s window, whilst his sister’s violent boyfriend ends up literally nailed to the wall.
The novel opens with Sasha meeting the main narrator, Louie, and she soon learns the extent of his power; “impressing him was everything.’ Sasha’s power comes from his personal sense of self confidence and strength, as the reader sees him ‘glare like a wolf’ at anyone who might threaten a blind man on the train.
Sasha’s power is not endless, however, as he is only as strong as the friends around him. When Louie points out how much he needs his friends, it is clear that his power is built on respect, fear and association with the right people.
Sonya Hartnett presents us with Louie as our main narrator, an eighteen year old girl who has been bullied and longs to be powerful. She starts off as “just a baby” and ends up discovering who she really is and what she is capable of. Her power is limited in the novel, as she attempts to empower herself through her association with her boyfriend Andy’s gang. When Andy proves too ordinary, Louie will stop at nothing to gain Sasha’s attention; “I admired him wildly.” She lies, she steals, but this will never be enough.