The White Girl
by Tony Birch
Publication Date March 15, 2022
Published by HarperCollins
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Literary
A searing new novel from leading Indigenous storyteller Tony Birch that explores the lengths we will go to in order to save the people we love.Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves. In The White Girl, Miles-Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch shines a spotlight on the 1960s and the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families.
The White Girl by Tony Birch is a beautiful story about one strong woman’s desire to protect her granddaughter and make a better life for her.
This is a look into the oppressive practice of the Australian government in removing Aboriginal children from their families in order to “protect” them back in the 1960s. In this story, we follow one woman in her efforts to keep her thirteen-year-old granddaughter from the clutches of the Government.
Odette Brown lives with her granddaughter, Sissy in a small country town. Set in the early 1960s, Odette knows that Sissy, with her fair skin, may be targeted by the welfare authorities for removal to a “better” home. So far, she’s managed to evade the authorities, but when a new lawman moves into town, she knows she has to do something to keep Sissy safe.
This short novel is written in a very straightforward way and was easy to read, but also emotional too. I enjoyed the simplistic writing style and was instantly immersed in the story. After reading this story, I still don’t know much about Odetter or Sissy, but I do know a lot about the practices of the Government during this time period and how affected the lives of Odette and Sissy, and I believe this is the point the author was trying to make.
Although an emotional story, I felt like the author was able to highlight the horrors of the Federal Aboriginal Protection Act and the ramifications this act had on the Aboriginal people, without being too dramatic. He does this by writing about a strong, inspirational woman who defies the welfare officials and tells her story in a very matter-of-fact way.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves literary fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
The White Girl by Tony Birch was originally published in Australia by Queensland Press on June 4 2019. Here is the original Australian cover:
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