“I’m Aboriginal. I’m just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.
What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal – however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don’t ask her to camp in the desert.
After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too ‘fair-skinned’ to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita’s involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.”
“Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn’t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat – her own past.”
8. It came to my attention recently (when I posted a snake photo on Instagram) that our overseas friends view Australia as a land full of big, bad, deadly animals.
Can you name five of them?
What about five of our cuter more unique creatures?
(For the locals, which five animals from each category have you had an up close and personal with)?
Um, the humans?
The Princess Bride wouldn’t lie to me, right? Sorry Brona. I’m American. I’ve got no room to talk.
Sharks, spiders, snakes of all kinds of poisonousness – scary ones
Koala bears, cockatoos, kangaroos, sheep – not so scary
9. Can you name our current Prime Minister (plus four more from memory)?
No googling allowed!
Nope, but I know that one went missing and was never found. (Thank you Bill Bryson for arming me with facts that I never knew I was going to need.)
10. Did you know that Australians have a weird thing for BIG statues of bizarre animals and things?
“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.” Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
I hadn’t heard of this book until it was selected for the Diverse SciFi and Fantasy book club on Twitter. The author is an Indigenous Australian woman.
Several hundred years ago the Reckoning happened. It isn’t explained exactly what occurred. Now there are humans with special abilities. They are killed or imprisoned when their abilities start to manifest in order to maintain the status quo of the new world. Several of these kids have escaped into the wilderness and are living together. They live close to a compound specially built to jail captured Illegals.
The humans haven’t decided this just because of fear of the Illegals. They decided in response to the Reckoning that they will live in harmony with nature. They will keep their technology simple so as not to cause another ecological disaster. I like that the conflict between the types of Humans isn’t just based in fear. I’d like to see the authorities’ thoughts about how keeping illegals subdued helps lessen human impact on the environment explored more. I hear that these are explored more in the next book.
When Ashala is betrayed and captured, she is terrified that she will lead authorities to the rest of her Tribe. They are probably protected because they have made a deal with a species of large lizards who live in the wilds between the detention center and the Tribe. The Tribe can live in the forest if they promise not to eat any meat. Vegetarians for the win! But if the authorities can get past the Saurs the kids don’t have great defenses.
Something feels off about her capture and interrogation. Ashala isn’t sure what it is. She’s going to have to figure it out quickly because it is distracting her and distraction may make her betray her people. She’s also grieving because of some tough decisions that she had to make for the safety of the Tribe.
I can’t talk much more about the plot without spoilers. Ashala needs to trust herself and her own mind in order to survive her interrogation and possibly find a way to escape.
The abilities of Ashala’s tribe are based in Aboriginal folklore. I haven’t read a book before that uses that as a basis for a magical/supernatural system.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“Christmas Livingstone has formulated 10 top rules for happiness by which she tries very hard to live. Nurturing the senses every day, doing what you love, sharing joy with others are some of the rules but the most important for her is no. 10 – absolutely no romantic relationships! Her life is good now. Creating her enchantingly seductive shop, The Chocolate Apothecary, and exploring the potential medicinal uses of chocolate makes her happy; her friends surround her; and her role as a fairy godmother to her community allows her to share her joy. She doesn’t need a handsome botany ace who knows everything about cacao to walk into her life. One who has the nicest grandmother – Book Club Captain at Green Hills Aged Care Facility and intent on interfering – a gorgeous rescue dog, and who wants her help to write a book. She really doesn’t need any of that at all. Or does she?”
I hardly ever find any Australian books to read. I’m not sure why. I was so excited when this turned out to be set in Tasmania! I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book set there.
Christmas owns a chocolate store that reminds me a lot of the one in Chocolat, without the magical realism. Her goal is to combine chocolate and medicine. She started to store after a heartbreak on the mainland. Now she is content in her life. There are two big opportunities for her coming up. She has a chance to go to an eccentric chocolate making week-long course in France and she is asked to co-write a book on chocolate with a botanist. Both of these are exciting on their own, but her friends and family are interfering. They think she should look up her long lost father in France and they think that she should see the botanist as a romantic opportunity. Christmas is fine without either complication, thank you very much.
This book is mainly about the characters. Christmas and her family are all unique personalities as are the residents at the Aged Care Facility who decide to work as matchmakers. That distracts them from the cut throat competition to be in charge of the book club. There isn’t a lot that happens in the story but getting to know the people is the real joy of this book.
Linking up with Foodies Read and I will have a copy of this book available as a prize for people linking up with us.