'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday, 3 July 2020

Review: My Place (For Younger Readers)

An abridged version of the 1987 classic, My Place for younger readers is a book that has lost no power in the 33 years since it was first published.

This book should be read by everyone. It should be read and discussed. It should spark anger and tears and hope and belief. 

That’s what powerful books do. And this book has mountains of power.

My Place is the autobiography of Sally Morgan — author, illustrator, creative genius. You might recognise her name. She’s created so many beautiful books you may have read to your kids (Dreamers, Girls Can Fly and so many more).

This book is her story, her life from childhood into adulthood and the discovery she made as a child that she and her family were Aboriginal.

The book follows Sally as she tries to find out more about her people and the difficulty she experiences in getting her family to talk about the past. It will open your eyes to Australia’s history and the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is confronting and it is heartbreaking, but it is important that everyone understands our country’s past.

Again, everyone needs to read this book.

Sally is a determined woman, and she wants to know everything she can, so she travels to her grandmother’s birthplace to learn more about her people. As she learns more, and shares more with the rest of her family, her grandmother Daisy, great uncle Arthur and mother Gladys all agree to share parts of their own stories with Sally.

These stories are peppered throughout the book in Daisy, Arthur and Gladys’ own words — stories about their childhood, lives and the experiences that defined them.

Confronting, heartbreaking.

Again, everyone needs to read this book.

When you reach the end, you'll feel like you've been given a precious gift. From Sally Morgan and from Daisy and from Arthur and from Gladys. These amazing people give every reader a piece of themselves in this novel, so that we may understand a little bit more about our country's past and the treatment of First Nations people.

I cannot express the power of these gifts enough. I really can’t. They are gifts that will never leave you. They most certainly will never leave me. Sally writes with truth and emotion. The story invites you to be part of Sally’s family and experience her triumphs and challenges with her. It is raw and emotional.

The book has been reshaped for younger readers, so it is very accessible for middle grade and YA readers. But there is tough subject matter between the covers, and the content will likely lead to questions, so parents, carers and teachers may need to support younger readers by providing a safe place to discuss the book.

Honestly, read this book. When your children are ready, encourage them to read this book. If you have a classroom, study this book. There are teachers notes available on the Fremantle Press website to help you guide discussion, but I honestly think if you just read the novel with your kids and let them ask questions, everyone involved will get so much out of the experience.

Read this book. It will be hard, and it will be confronting. But it will change you forever. For the better.

Title: My Place (For Younger Readers)
Author: Sally Morgan
Publisher: Fremantle Press, $17.99 
Publication Date: 1 March 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925816761
For ages: 12+
Type: Non-Fiction, Junior Non-Fiction