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By the time she grows into a beautiful young woman, she has already suffered the disappointments of unrequited love and a forbidden desire. Encouraged to hide behind the identity of a Southern European, the highly charged political environment of the time, and her love for a political activist, forces her to confront her true identity.
Posted July 5, 2013
I didn't realize until I read this book that Aboriginal children were taken from their parents to be integrated into the Australian society. But, they didn't belong to either. I found it enlightening, but sad.
It was a bit too long.
Posted June 27, 2011
A fabulous read. Wonderfully written and well researched. I found the character of Margaret an absorbing one. Being an Australian of Aboriginal ancestry (my great grandmother was a full blood aborigine whom married my English-born great grandfather), I found it such a thought provoking read. I'm sure my grandmother (being half-caste and always trying to hide her Aboriginal heritage to "fit in" in the "white world") must have gone through many of the things Margaret did. It must be so hard to be mixed race and feel you don't fit in to either world. It was lovely to read a story about Australia in the 1960s and 70s as well and to relive the culture of the time. There has been a lot of reform over the past 40 years with Aboriginal rights and land ownership - even, finally, a formal apology from the Australian government (LONG overdue). But I still can't help but think there is a long way to go. If you love reading about Australian history, this is a must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2011
This one hits on the heart of the dreaming and the repercussions of stealing the indigenous from their "country" .. sadly just one story of way too many. Margaret's confusion and uncertainty about who she needs to be at any given time throughout her life is approached with authenticity, and like many of the stolen generation, her quest for the answers to where she "belongs" takes the reader on a voyage into the heart of cultural identity.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2011
from Murphy's Library
This story is set in Australia, but could be any country that has a large amount of Aboriginal people. For decades the Australian government has forced those children into white culture, in what they called a try out for rehabilitation, a way to make children grow out the Aboriginals. The Stolen Generation is what it was called. But they've forgotten one thing: nobody can change the blood that runs in our veins.
Secrets from the Dust is centered in a child forced away from her birth parents and placed with white ones. She is obviously different and this is what makes this book so wonderful to read.
I live in Brazil and we have lots of different cultures going on here, so it is very touching to read about Margaret, even though she was a lucky one. She was treated right when several children from this time were just servants, insignificants individuals that weren't cared for.
The characteres in this story all form a connection with the reader. You don't just read this book, you live it, and that is due to the amazing writing of George Hamilton. In a world so torn by racism and discrimination, this is an eye opener book that should be read by lots of people as a way to put some sense on them. Maybe with fictional characters suffering people can understand what real people suffer every day with violence against races. It's sad that even a book from the old times is still so atual.
I really liked as the narrative goes, but there are some paragraphs that could've been constructed differently to catch more attention, because I find them to long or too descriptive. Overall, this is a great book.
Posted April 20, 2011
Between 1910 and 1969 Australia had what was known as The Stolen Generation. Children of mixed heritage of the Aboriginal tribes were forcefully abducted from their parents. Taken to orphanages or church missions and made wards of the state, they were adopted out and their families never saw them again. Secrets From The Dust is the story of one girl and her life, and although a fictional story, depicts that time. Renamed Margaret, she was better known to the tribe as Snake -Woman- Child. Although her father located her, he was unable to get her back away from the mission. Margaret fared better than most as the family that adopted her believed in education. She continued her education in Sydney where she became a nurse. Through the years she had to come to terms of her true identity and culture in which she was reared.
This book was very hard to put down. This is a fictional account but clearly demonstrates the plight of the aboriginals and how they were treated. This book is very well written. It was easy to connect with the characters.
Posted March 13, 2011
From the late 1880's to the mid 1960's, Australian authorities (government, church and welfare) removed Aboriginal children from their parents care forcing them into homes to be assimilated into white culture (usually as servants). This abhorrent policy has resulted in what is called "The Stolen Generation".
'Margaret', is stolen from her Mob as a young child and is placed in Radley, a care home for aboriginal girls where they are forced to deny their family, culture and language while being taught the basic tenants of servitude. The home is cruel, Margaret is half-starved and abused but the law refuses to return her to her family.Eventually she is 'adopted' by the MacDonalds family and joins them on their farm.
Margaret is luckier than many of the stolen generation in that her family believes she should be treated with charity, educated and cared for to fit in within white society. Margaret's attempts to hold onto her own culture, and the hope her parents will come for her, wither under the natural desire of a child to fit in with her new family and community.
Hamilton does an excellent job of portraying Margaret's gradual alienation from her own culture. He captures the subtle shifts in her thinking and her longing to belong. Margaret is an appealing and sympathetic character, she shows determination and spirit despite difficult circumstances.
Margaret's situation is subtly contrasted by her 'sister', the other white children at the school and the 'adopted' aboriginal children she meets. Margaret's adoptive mother and to a lesser extent her adoptive father and sister are well-developed as are the important minor characters.
My heart breaks knowing that while Margaret is fictionalised, her circumstances are a representation of the racism and bigotry aboriginals experienced under the guise of 'help'. It is even harder to know that most were treated far worse, as her friends situations illustrate. The impact of the Stolen Generation is huge with the repercussions still echoing through Australian society.
Secrets From the Dust is well written, the descriptions of both place and emotion are lyrical and honest. Hamilton does well to capture details and attitudes of the time with the story spanning a period of about 10+ years during the 1950's - 1960's. He manages to avoid a sensational or preachy tone that is common in such a politically 'hot' story. Most impressively, given the author's gender (male) and heritage (he resides in England) is his ability to explore the issues from an aboriginal teenaged girl perspective with an authentic voice.
Harrowing, beautiful and thought-provoking, Secrets From the Dust is an impressive novel from George Hamilton. With its shocking conclusion it deserves an audience, particularly from Australian's who want to understand the impact Australia's social policies have had on the indigenous population.
Sheleyrae @ Book'd Out
Posted October 29, 2013
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