My place, for younger readers by Sally Morgan
Fremantle Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781925816761.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. This latest publication of Sally Morgan's iconic My place (1987), a classic of Australian literature, is adapted for younger readers in this new edition with a bright new cover taken from a screen print of the author's artwork 'Women of the Earth'. It is a long time since I read the original book, but the things I remember are all still there, the down-to-earth descriptions of family life, the humour and funny stories. For me the stand-out memory is Morgan's anecdote of her mother and future mother-in-law planting out stalks of fresh-cut and plastic flowers in the garden the morning of Sally's wedding, and her serendipitous purchase of a cream and gold Indian caftan for her wedding dress just hours before the ceremony. This latest edition is supposedly aimed at young readers but it is still a hefty book at 359 pages. Despite this, it retains its easy conversational style and is sure to draw in readers across age groups. It truly is a must-read account of early Aboriginal - white settler relations, with its revelations of the life of Arthur Corunna, long-time hard-working Aboriginal labourer and stockman; Gladys Corunna, taken from her Aboriginal mother at the age of three and sent to Parkerville Children's Home; and finally the long suppressed story of Daisy Corunna, the unrecognised daughter of a white station owner and long-standing servant to the family. This is Aboriginal history, the personal stories and lived experience of people not recognised in the accounts of the white history makers.
The suffering and deep sense of loss that is revealed in these stories, and the long-lasting impact and sense of shame that Morgan's family carried, hiding their heritage behind the deception that they were of Indian descent, was brought out into the open in Sally Morgan's original book and now deserves to be re-read again in this latest edition. This new publication is a timely reminder of our shared history and a most worthy addition to school libraries. Themes: Aboriginal history, Stolen Generations, Identity, Racism.