Friday, 12 November 2010

Aussie Author Challenge - Book Review No 6 - My Place, by Australian Aboriginal writer and artist, Sally Morgan

Here is my  sixth book review for the Aussie Author Challenge. It reveals the difficulty in being aboriginal in a white society. It was published in 1987, so has been around for sometime. I remember how shocked I felt when I first read it. Seeing Australian society through aboriginal eyes was very unsettling. Fancy anyone hiding their identity because of fear of being looked down on. Of course, since then, I've learned this isn't so unusual.

My Place is a heart-warming story of a family with Aboriginal roots in Australia. Most of it is written from Sally Morgan's point of view. Sally is the eldest child in the family who lived in Manning with her mother (Gladys), grandmother (Nan), and her four siblings – Jill, Billy, David, and Helen. Her father, Bill, died when she was only a young girl. He had been a POW (Prisoner of War) in Germany and was tortured so brutally that he needed serious hospital treatment even when the war ended.

Sally Morgan is an indigeneous artist. Here is one of her works.

Besides Sally’s point of view, there are also stories from three other people - Arthur Corunna, Gladys Corunna, and Daisy Corunna. Arthur is Sally’s granduncle, Gladys is Sally’s mom, and Daisy is Sally’s grandmother, whom she refers to as Nan. It was quite difficult for Sally to get Gladys’ and Daisy’s stories as they were reluctant to share their past. Especially Daisy (Nan) who is defiant in keeping her past a deep secret. She lives in fear of being found to be aboriginal.

This book reminds me of another book on racism and slavery - Roots by Alex Haley, but lacking the outright violence in Haley's tome. The stories in My Place are eye-opening as we are taken back to history where we learn about the troubles and conflicts between races. At times when I read them, I became emotional and felt anger about how the aboriginal people were treated cruelly and in a totally unfair way. Fortunately, times have changed, but not as much as you might think.

Sally Morgan, proudly photographed in front of the Aboriginal Flag.

My Place is interesting from the first page but slumps a little in the middle. However, when I reached Gladys’ story, things picked up pace. Overall, My Place is definitely a must-read. I learned a lot about Australia while reading this book. It also stresses family importance and accepting one’s roots. Important things to ponder on.

Click on the kangaroo to read more Aussie Book Reviews


  1. I first read this as a young girl, I think about 12 or so - my mum had a copy and I read hers (I was a precocious reader!). I feel really lucky that I read it at such a young age as it really helped to cement my understanding of what it is to be an Aboriginal Australian at a time when I was still very impressionable, and helped to counteract some of the more racist and intolerant views that are around our country about Aboriginal Australians. It's been years now since I've read it, your review has reminded me of it and makes me want to read it again.

  2. It sounds like an interesting book on aboriginal culture in Australia.

    Excellent review.

  3. Even though I'm in the US I've always been intrigued by the aboriginal culture.

    The book sounds like an educating read towards the need for tolerance and should not be limited to Australia.

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  4. Isn't it sad that someone whose father suffered for his country still had to hide her roots?
    My cousins watched roots with a couple of Caucasian friends things got very awkward cos they had no idea of the kind of film it was. very very awkward and funny

  5. I definitely want to read this book. Thanks for pointing it out to me.


  6. I definitely want to read that book, what an amazing life. I know a lot about the Maori population in NZ but not so much about the Aborigines. Thanks for sharing.

  7. mummazappa: It was great that you read this when you were so young. It is worth another read. thanks for commenting..:)

    The Golden Eagle: It is. Thanks..:)

    Jules: I'm not sure if it was released o'seas. Thanks for your interest..:)

    Joanna: Yes, it makes you want to scream! Roots was one of my first exposures to the horror of the slave trade and the effect has never left me..:(

    Jai: Hope you can find it..:)

    kangaroobee: The difference between the Maori and the Australian Aboriginal is that the Maori was warlike whilst the Aborigine is quite passive..:)

  8. Don't all of us at some time in our lives and at some crucial moment -- hide who really are lest we fail to pass muster?

    An excellent review as always.

  9. Roland, an excellent rhetorical question and thanks for reading/commenting on my review..:)

  10. Another to add to my reading list. My ex mother-in-lae's father was a policeman and they always had an aboriginal girl in the house to teach her - white ways... So close to our time! Thanks for the suggestions you left on Kangaroos of the Scrubby Bush I'm signed up to Nano Bloggers and will look at the other post Nano. Crossed half way today - phew!

  11. What beautiful art work Sally does. The book sounds amazing. I wish Sally, her friends and family all the best and great success. And I want to thank you too, L'Aussie for hosting her.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  12. Cheryl: You're welcome. Our history is pretty sad in many ways. Join the crusade!

    NR: Appreciate your comments as always..:)

  13. I've read her book too and throughly enjoyed it also Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington. Madeleine :O)

  14. Madeline: Yes, Rabbit Proof Fence is another good one..:)

  15. I first read an abridged version of this book for school when I was in year seven--I then spotted my mother's much thicker version and jumped on that, instead. It was such an important step for me in understanding the history of my country. Great book, great writing--highly recommend it to those who are thinking of reading it.


I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!