Review Blog

Apr 22 2007

Swallow the air by Tara June Winch

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Louis Braille Audio, 2006. 3 CDs

Age 14+ Tara June Winch's narration of her novel leaves the listener breathless with the beauty of her lyrical language as she describes the sea and the land with loving detail. Her voice gains a lilting quality and gives the prose a poetic feeling that is wonderful to listen to. This is such a contrast to the almost matter-of-fact voice that she uses to recount the huge and often disturbing themes that the book explores: drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, single parents and searching for identity.

This is the story of fifteen year old May who, with her brother Billy, goes to live with Aunty when their mother dies. They both are searching for their place in the world and find it increasingly difficult to live with Aunty and her abusive partner. When Billy disappears after a violent episode, May decides to find her father and trace her aboriginal identity. Her journey takes her to the Northern Territory and the outback and through the people she meets, she discovers what family means and where she belongs.

Listeners will gain an understanding of what it is like to be a young girl straddling two worlds, with a 'head-sick' Aboriginal mother and a white father who has abandoned her. We all need acceptance and family and this reading will help its listeners recognise those who love us and whom we love.

The author, of Wiradjuri, Afghan and English heritage, is the 2004 Winner of the David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers. This quality audio production could be listened to as a series of inter-linked short stories or as a whole and would be a very valuable addition to texts looking at adolescents coming of age and Aboriginal experience. Highly recommended.

Pat Pledger

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