Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Gifts of the Peramangk" by Dean Mayes

I read "Gifts of the Peramangk" by Dean Mayes as part of the Aussie Author Challenge.It was recommended to me by a friend (Paula) who often suggests good books to me. She told me 'to do yourself a favour and read this book'. She was not wrong. This is a 10/10 book for me. It is set mostly in Adelaide, South Australia, where I am currently living, as so all the little details about locations, such as the Elder Hall on North Terrace and the environment here really connected with me.

The story is a mix of tragedy and heartwarming moments and achievements in the face of adversity. The story is split between two main narrators: Virginia - a young girl who is part of the 'Stolen' generation - taken from her mother without consent during the notorious White Australia Policy, - and her granddaughter Ruby. 

Virginia's life is mostly hell, in an orphanage and then as basically a slave on an outback property. The only bit of joy really in her life is when the wife of the brutal property manager secretly teaches her to play the violin a few hours per week when he is absent. Virginia obviously has a huge musical talent, but as events unfold in her tragic life she doesn't have the opportunity to follow up on her dreams and musical talent. Then enter Ruby, who discovers her grandmother's old violin and also has a gift for playing it. While also surrounded by contemporary issues of being disadvantaged, discriminated against, living in poverty and being caught up in domestic violence and crime, Ruby (with the encouragement of her grandmother) follows her musical dreams. While many dark and unhappy themes and events happen throughout the book, it is in the end uplifting and beautiful.

Started reading: 21st August 2014
Finished: 28th August 2014
My score: 10/10

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