behind the wind
at the back of the sea
is my country”
I finally read the wonderfully lyrical Sister Heart by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press, 2015). More verse novel love and deserving of all the award love. But the judges are confused: shortlisted for the CBCA Book of The Year Younger Readers 2016 and longlisted for the (YA) Inky Award 2016. I’m not confused, just heart drowned
in my saltwater tears”
Annie is bereft. Named Annie by the white fellas who took her (we never know her language name). Losing her name, her family, her country, her culture, the very words she speaks and thinks.
“There’s too much english in this place
english hurts my head
english is hard on my tongue
english is missing good words
english is lonely”
In the group home down south all Annie has are her memories. Slowly she finds a sister in Janey, who teaches her the ropes and how to manage her sadness.
“But I can’t talk
I feel my voice
rattling inside me
like a trapped thing
trying to get out”
The horrors of Australia’s recent history of removing Aboriginal children from their families and placing them in abusive care is heart wrenching. The pain of Annie and Janey and Tim reverberates through the pages and down the generations.
The book design by Tracey Gibbs is delicate but spectacular.
Sister Heart wrung my heart dry. It’s such an important story and I hope it wins Book of The Year.