Title: The White Girl
Author: Tony Birch
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper 360
Publication Date: 28th April 2022
Odette Brown has lived her entire life on the fringes of Deane, a small Australian country town. Dark secrets simmer beneath the surface of Deane—secrets that could explain why Odette’s daughter, Lila, left her one-year-old daughter, Sissy, and never came back, or why Sissy has white skin when her family is Aboriginal.
For thirteen years, Odette has quietly raised her granddaughter without drawing notice from welfare authorities who remove fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. But the arrival of a new policeman with cruel eyes and a rigid by-the-book attitude throws the Brown women’s lives off-kilter. It will take all of Odette’s courage and cunning to save Sissy from the authorities, and maybe even lead her to find her daughter.
Bolstered by love, smarts, and the strength of their ancestors, Odette and Sissy are an indomitable force, handling threats to their family and their own identities with grace and ingenuity, while never losing hope for themselves and their future.
In The White Girl, Miles Franklin Award-nominated author Tony Birch illuminates Australia’s devastating post-colonial past—notably the government’s racist policy of separating Indigenous children from their families, known today as the Stolen Generations—and introduces a tight-knit group of charming, inspiring characters who remind us of our shared humanity, and that kindness, hope, and love have no limits.
The White Girl is a relatively short novel but my goodness does it do a lot within those pages. This period of recent history in Australia is not something I knew much about and the truth of what happened with the Stolen Generations is truly heartbreaking and anger-inducing. The story of the force that is Odette, as she fights to keep her fair-skinned granddaughter Sissy is so powerful and full of the bonds of love and family that sustain life, that although this is an extremely upsetting book at times, it never feels depressing or too overwhelming to read. The White Girl is a beautifully written novel with a cast of characters that will stay with you long after you turn that final page. Highly recommended.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.
Buy the book: