In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia's prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.
Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother's frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help, she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity.
I had the pleasure of reading The Hambledown Dream by Mr. Hayes last year and just loved it. So, I was really excited to read his newest book, Gifts of the Peramangk. The cover alone is stunning, but it's what is between the covers that kept me riveted night after night. I savored it slowly, not wanting to see this novel end.
A poignant, thought-provoking novel that deals with the real issue of racism, and with characters that are so well developed, I wept for them and I cheered for their triumphs, however tinged they may be with diversity and hopelessness. The violin does play a big part of the story, but it is the superb plot and realistic writing that will keep you drawn, page after page. I was invested in both stories, that of the past and of the future, and was really delighted with the ending. You don't need to read his first book to enjoy this one, but Dean is such a phenomenal writer, I'd urge you to pick up both. I highly recommend this book!!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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