Review Blog

Jun 30 2009

The good daughter by Amra Pajalic

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Text, 2009 ISBN 9781921520334
(Age 14-16) Sabiha has become conscious of having Bosnian background since her grandfather's arrival in Australia. Before that, she and her mother were somewhat alienated from the community, due to her mother's single status and unconventional lifestyle.
Sammie, as she prefers to be called, rebels against the newly imposed constraints of her community while her mother strives for acceptance and a husband. Sammie has her own problems as she tries to maintain her friendship with her best friend from a previous school, as well as gaining acceptance in her new one.
Throughout the novel, Sammy grows in sensitivity in her insight into herself and others; we too gain insight into her mother's struggles with personal relationships, exacerbated by her bi-polar condition, as well as the struggle to be accepted by a community of Bosnian refugees, themselves in search of a new identity.
While the explicit explanations of Bosnian customs and history tend to pall in the initial chapters, the story engages your attention when it deals with relationship and friendship issues. The clash of cultures is central to these relationships but at times we feel as if we are being given a lecture instead of discovering these insights implicitly. Especially interesting, however, is the way we see these migrants adopting more traditional religious and cultural beliefs than they held when in Bosnia.
One concern with the novel is the treatment of homosexuality. It is a little disappointing that Brian, who is initially sniggered at and called 'gay' because he is well groomed and well dressed, is, in fact, homosexual, reinforcing stereotypes.
Overall, however, it is an engaging read that young people of 14-16 should enjoy.
Gwenda Steiner

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