Becoming Kirrali Lewis

Becoming Kirrali Lewis Jane HarrisonThis is the first book for Indigenous author, Jane Harrison. She received the State Library of Queensland’s Black & Write award in 2014. Although the underlying theme of this book is the inequality of Indigenous Australians we are introduced to the concept that some are reluctant to embrace their heritage. We follow the journey of Aboriginal teenager, Kirrali, as she leaves her home in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in Melbourne in 1985.  Kirrali was adopted into a white family and did not know how to fill in forms that asked if she were Indigenous Australian or Australian as she did not feel there was a distinction. People always assumed she had indepth knowledge of Indigenous culture and politics but she had always shied away from becoming involved. She had only a passing knowledge about children taken from their aboriginal families and did not feel that this was relevant to her. The novel’s narrative shifts between the 1980s and the 1960s to relate Kirrali’s mum’s story and it is when Kirrali meets her biological mother that she faces some truths about herself and the people around her – friends, family and strangers. She thought she had her future mapped out but learning about her heritage redirected her energies. There are some moments in the book where I would have liked the author to linger so I could my emotional attachment to each of the characters. There were also brief passages that felt like opportunistic moments to add Indigenous history which could have been better merged into the story. I found this book highly readable and an excellent book for students needing titles for HSC AOS – Discovery. To find more visit the library catalogue.

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