Meet Marly by Alice Pung

cover image

Our Australian girl. 1983. Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. Puffin, 2015
Recommended for readers from 8-10 years. The Our Australian girl series celebrates the lives of young girls in historically significant times past. Author Alice Pung draws from her own family experiences to create the story of Marly, a young Vietnamese refugee living in Sunshine, Melbourne, in 1983. One quarter of all the refugees who fled the aftermath of the Vietnam War were Chinese, many arrived by boat and had to assimilate into a totally foreign environment.
Ten-year-old Marly's life has finally settled down at home and school, at lunchtime she plays with friends Jessica and Kylie. At home, Mum works sewing shirts with her friends in the back shed and Dad is a factory worker. Marly's life changes when her Uncle Beng, Aunty Tam and cousins Tuyet and DaWei, Vietnamese refugees who fled to Hong Kong, arrive to live at her house. She is very resentful, about their living in half of the lounge room, giving up her old toys and having to take her cousins to school. Marly is named for Marlon one of the The Jackson 5 so she plays a trick on her girl cousin twelve-year-old Tuyet and renames her Jermaine whilst eight year old DaWei becomes Jackie.
Marly tries to teach her cousins the Australian ways but finds it is not easy. Friendships, family loyalties and cultural differences are explored, as Marly is forced to learn some life lessons and truths about her attitude. This story with the music, toys, television shows and refugees' lifestyles, is positioned in an historically accurate setting of the early 1980's.
Another great start to a new Our Australian girls series.
Rhyllis Bignel