Review: Nona & Me by Clare Atkins

Nona & MeSynopsis from Goodreads

Rosie and Nona are sisters. Yapas.

They are also best friends. It doesn’t matter that Rosie is white and Nona is Aboriginal: their family connections tie them together for life.

Born just five days apart in a remote corner of the Northern Territory, the girls are inseperable, until Nona moves away at the age of nine. By the time she returns, they’re in Year 10 and things have changed. Rosie has lost interest in the community, preferring to hang out in the nearby mining town, where she goes to school with the glamorous Selena, and Selena’s gorgeous older brother Nick.

When a political announcement highlights divisions between the Aboriginal community and the mining town, Rosie is put in a difficult position: will she be forced to choose between her first love and her oldest friend?

Oh how I adored this book.

I loved the story, I loved the characters, I loved the history, I loved the setting (Northern Territory, I miss you!), the writing, the cover (Mandee! You HAVE to do a manicure for this cover!)

While I was travelling (God, I’m really sorry, I’m desperately trying not to be that girl who is always like OHWHENIWASTRAVELLINGIWENTTRAVELLINGDIDYOUKNOWIWENTTRAVELLING? But I swear this tangent is relevant), I got the most ridiculous once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a cattle station in the Northern Territory for a month. My main role here (bear with me while I just copy & paste my CV here…) was working in an Indigenous Art Gallery which was, as you can probably imagine, one of the most fascinating experiences of my entire trip.

Even more so than the time I got to feed a dolphin.

I won’t go on about this too much but reading Nona & Me took me back to being surrounded by these beautiful people and I will always have a special place in my heart for Indigenous culture and their stories and their beauty and their strength and Clare Atkins perfectly encapsulates all of this in Nona & Me.

The story is told from Rosie’s perspective as she’s navigating the trials and tribulations of being a fifteen year old girl but also dealing with and trying to understand things going on around her that are completely impossible to understand. It’s a very moving and honest portrayal of the constant struggle that the Australian Indigenous communities have to live with on a regular basis.

While I really enjoyed the parts where Rosie went to school and her relationship with Nick (who is such an interesting character, by the way. I’d love to find out more about him…), my favourite parts were when we were taken back to Rosie growing up out in the bush with Nona and her family. One of the most beautiful things that I noticed about the Indigenous tribes were that they let their kids be kids; all running wild and scuffed knees. That’s what childhood is about and it was a joy to read Clare Atkins’ portrayal of this.

If you truly love Aussie YA (and I know about 98% of you do) you should read this book because not only does it tick all the Aussie YA boxes but it’s also about something that is extremely important in Australian life and should be always, always be in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

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