Review Blog

Jul 10 2017

Our race for reconciliation by Anita Heiss

cover image

My Australian Story. Scholastic Australia, 2017. ISBN 9781760276119
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. This is one of the best books I have read this year. Author, Anita Heiss, is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of Central NSW. Her language and ability to be a story teller make the text more authentic having lived many of the emotions and themes portrayed in the book. The historical notes at the back of the book also give a brief insight into the events that have affected the indigenous communities since European settlement.
We are introduced to Mel Gordon, an avid Cathy Freeman fan, twin sister to an aspiring cricketer and a lover of Seinfeld. It's 2000 and the Olympics are going to be held in Sydney. Mel is beside herself when she finds out her local hero is coming to visit her school. If this is not exciting enough, she then finds out her family are heading to Sydney on a holiday. We meet a number of interesting family members along the way which is a great example of the extended families experienced by many indigenous people. The trip becomes much more meaningful when they participate in the 'People's Walk for Reconciliation' across Sydney Harbour Bridge for national 'Sorry Day'. Deep cultural memories and emotions are stirred up especially for Mel's Nana Flora who was removed from her family during The Stolen Generation.
Throughout the book, Mel's sense of identity strengthens, despite experiencing the normal insecurities and worries tweens face these days. This book is a great addition to the school library with clear themes including individuality, commitment to culture and the powerful message of acknowledgement and healing of indigenous issues in Australia's history. This book could be read independently by students aged 10 and up and would make an excellent read aloud text.
Kathryn Schumacher

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