(Voice Dictation – This post has been published via iPhone Dictation)
“I don’t believe it’s possible to hurt another person without hurting oneself, an invisible hurt, a tear in the soul that allows the essence of one’s humanity to leak out, like bleeding from a cut. Awareness of the loss might come infrequently or only in the dead of night or when staring at the bottom of a beer glass. But it almost always comes. A collective group can’t hurt another collective group either without hurting itself. And I belong to a collective group that has hurt.”
It’s hard to imagine a world where the children you grew up; friends you saw every single day and now know today, were inferior to you simply as a result of their skin complexion. Webster bravely shares her personal account of her childhood with a heart wrenching novel set in her hometown, Kalgoorlie. Webster invites the reader on a long anticipated journey to the Kurrawang region of Western Australia in the faint hope of finding answers about her childhood friends whom she soon discovers, were members of the Stolen Generations.
The novel is beyond powerful. It’s enough to have one reader regretfully praise not being present in a time where society could be so oblivious to their counterparts in the sense where they are treated so differently it begs the question “how could the mind of a single person produce such hate for a race?”. What was white Australia of 1952 so scared of losing had they not tried to assimilate the Aborigines? Today it may perhaps be a lot easier to answer these questions given the resources we have access to however, Webster takes no chances to sugarcoat why what happened in the past was no less than a series of grave injustices to Aboriginal Australians.
The book itself is a meticulous tale with memoir analysis. Webster draws upon deep and complex themes of guilt and self-examination. Themes which become what Webster calls a “personal reconciliation”.
Website embarks on a mission to find a friend from her childhood, a young girl who she remembers spending many days of the summer with but finds was in fact also a young victim of the Stolen Generations. In the process of this journey, Webster meets Greg Ugle. Greg himself, a quiet, humble and yet honest man who not only helps with Webster throughout her journey, but plays a prominent role in teaching Webster so much about Aboriginal culture she never knew. The two personalities complimented each other. At times, you could almost worry that cultural differences could deter such a friendship apart but surprisingly only made it stronger. I hope the two are still corresponding today.
Many of the answers to her questions actually turned out to be answers that were more or less hurtful or even perhaps answers the reader would not expect. That is what makes his book a genuinely beautiful read. The beauty of this novel lies in the raw and intricate ground work Webster does in the process of forming well-informed chapters. I’d be surprised to read a review which finds Websters novel seemingly bias.
It may of been the time of day or night which made me feel as though the book became a bit strenuous to read, but looking back and reviewing the novel as a whole and not a part, it is very hard to find a fault. The book itself is the first novel I have read which is based in Australia. That in itself could have almost been the only con I found for the book apart from the fact that I almost missed an international flight as a result of reading the synopsis, standing at the counter of WHS inside Melbourne’s International Airport, so many times before actually purchasing it.