by Sally Morgan
This extraordinary autobiography tells the moving story of three generations of Australian women. Sally Morgan was born in Perth in the 1950s and grew up in suburban western Australia believing that her family were Indian. It was not until she was at university that she finally found out the truth – that she was part Aboriginal. Shame and fear (even in the 1960s and 70s they believed their mixed-race children would be taken from them) prompted her mother and grandmother to keep their true identity secret. Sally’s beloved grandmother would not even speak about her past.
With characteristic courage and doggedness, Sally sets out to discover the suppressed history of her family. She travels to her ancestors’ lands in the north and uncovers the story of her mother, her grandmother and her great uncle. Revealed is a terrible narrative of exploitation and degradation that has echoes for native peoples all over the world during the twentieth century, yet, by gradually allowing the voices of Gladys, Daisy and Albert to take over the narrative, it becomes a testament to their fortitude and resilience.
One of the things I really loved about this book is the character of ‘Nan’ - kind, obdurate and intensely spiritual - and Sally’s obvious devotion to her. It is a harsh tale but Sally’s warmth and affection for her family make it very readable. It also deals with subjects that would make for interesting discussion in reading groups.