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Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

by Anita Heiss (Editor)

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865247,026 (3.91)2
What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart - sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect.This groundbreaking collection will enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
3,5

This rating is not for the stories in the book, but for how the book is compiled. I think this is an important book and the stories are wonderful. However, fifty stories are at least twenty-five too many for a book that is three hundred pages long. The stories are also a bit repetitive, and not the good kind of repetitive. Also, sorting all these stories alphabetically by surname was also a mistake, I think it would have been better to sort them by theme.

If you're going to read this book, and you should: do not try to read this book in one sitting. Just read one or two stories each day. ( )
  tmrps | Jul 1, 2021 |
This book opened my eyes to something I knew almost nothing about, and it was fascinating. The editor states "There is no single or simple way to define what it means to grow up Aboriginal in Australia, but this anthology is an attempt to showcase as many of the diverse voices, experiences and stories together as possible." Hess did a remarkable job of providing the reader with a diverse group of aboriginal people with a range of experiences (and a good deal of shared experience.) I listened to this on audio, and hearing people tell their own stories really enhanced the experience.

Each piece here tells a unique story that highlights the differences in experience dictated by age, skin color, parental ties to aboriginal roots, and other factors. Some of the contributors grew up in European neighborhoods, and a few were adopted by white parents. One thing that did not seem to make much difference was economic standing, with more well off contributors facing much of the same flak as the less advantaged writers. As one would expect, some of the essays are better written than others, and more interesting, but all are deeply honest and informative. The stories, the writers often unconnected from one another, raise so many of the same themes. The pressure for fair aboriginals to "pass" as European was repeated. The racist comments of friends followed by "oh, I forgot you where here" or "I forgot you were aboriginal" seem so common. The high incidence of suicide in aboriginal communities appears to have touched most every contributor.

I was struck and disheartened by the similarities between the Australian aboriginal and the Native American and African American experience. The disrespect of native peoples, and the irrational import placed on skin color in the way people view one another is an international disgrace. This book illuminates that while educating on those things uniquely Australian. Exceptionally worthwhile.

One note, I dipped in and out of this and that worked well. I do not think this is the kind of book that is best consumed in one bite. ( )
  Narshkite | May 3, 2019 |
This is a very important book with many eye-opening sections. Made up of submissions from a wide range of people, the common thread that ties these stories together is of growing up marked as 'other'. While this idea is one that will resonate with many readers (all childhoods include negotiating one's own identity), the harrowing pity of this work is that the writers, each with Aboriginal heritage, have been made to feel strangers in their own place, as if somehow they do not belong to the land that is so integral to their lives.
It's tough reading in parts.
Some of these stories will make you cry, some will make you shake your head, others might allow you a wry grin at a piece of irony or a bit of self-deriding humour. Overall, the collection struck me as more bleak than hopeful of a more inculsive future, but that may be more a reflection of my feelings about the world as we know it. Sad, striking, moving, instructive: this book would make wonderful reading in schools.
I'd recommend that you treat it a series of short stories that you can delve into now and then. En masse, the effect is rather overwhelming. ( )
  ClareRhoden | Sep 26, 2018 |
There is much to learn from this anthology, but if there’s one thing that stands out it’s the diversity of Aboriginal experience. The 50 contributors include voices from everywhere, and editor Anita Heiss pays tribute to the land first of all:
The stories cover country from Nukunu to Noogar, Wiradjuri to Western Errernte, Ku Ku Yalinji to Kunibídji, Gunditjamara to Gumbaynggirr and many places in between.
Experiences span coastal and desert regions, cities and remote communities, and all of them speak to the heart. (p.1)
These life stories comes from
… all around the country, including from boarding schools and even inside prison; and from schoolchildren, university students and grandparents. We also have recollections of growing up Aboriginal in Australia by opera singers, actors, journalists, academics and activists. In many ways this anthology will also serve to demonstrate how we contribute to, and participate in, many varied aspects of society every day. (p.2)
There are voices that I know because I’ve read their writing:
Tony Birch, an award-winning novelist and short story writer;
Terri Janke (who operates an Indigenous owned law firm but also wrote the first Indigenous novel I ever read, Butterfly Song;
Ambelin Kwaymullina (whose novel The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf I reviewed for #IndigLitWeek);
Celeste Liddle (whose Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist I read online);
Jared Thomas who writes the kind of YA novels that adults like to read too;
Tara June Winch, an award-winning novelist and short story and of course
editor and author, Anita Heiss herself.
There are also famous names from other spheres of influence: Deborah Cheetham; Adam Goodes; and Miranda Tapsell – but when I turn to the back of the book I discover that all the contributors are doing awe-inspiring things with their lives, even 13-year-old Taryn Little, who knows that her ancestors would be proud of her, that her grandmother would have loved all her hard work and effort, that she is a strong young woman and that she makes her family proud.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/07/21/growing-up-aboriginal-in-australia-edited-by... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 21, 2018 |
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What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart - sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect.This groundbreaking collection will enlighten, inspire and educate about the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia today.

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