Nona & Me

Clare Atkins

Nona & Me
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Nona & Me

Clare Atkins

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?

Review

The ‘me’ of the title is Rosie, a Year 10 girl who lives in the Northern Territory and is going through some familiar trials: separated parents, a confusing friendship group, and a crush on her friend’s older brother. What lifts this story is that Rosie, a white Australian, lives outside of the mining town where all her white friends live, in Yirrkala, an Aboriginal community. An insecure teen, Rosie is desperate to hide just how much a part of the Yolnu people she is, and what they’ve meant to her. Until the age of nine, Rosie counted an Aboriginal girl, Nona, as not only her best friend but also her sister. Now things are different, and Rosie’s struggle is her fear of being judged versus her strong sense of connection with Nona and her extended family.

Like in many excellent stories before it, the most intriguing character is the one who remains at a distance: Nona. Through flashbacks we get to understand the bond that existed between the girls as children, and the thrill of having a warm and fearless friend, but this remains Rosie’s story. A significant part of it explores her first romance, the growing distance between her and her mother, and the fact that she sees her absent father as the better parent. There’s a lot going on, and this debut author does a fine job of keeping it all relevant. Highly recommended for ages 14 and up.


Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time.

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