My Place for Younger Readers by Sally Morgan
A bestseller in the late 1980s and never out of print since, My Place was one of the first books of memoir and family history by an Aboriginal author to reach such a wide audience. It remains accessible and engaging for a reader who is coming to Stolen Generations stories and lived experiences of Indigeneity for the first time. The fact that it is so accessible has led some people to criticise it for being simplified or sugar-coated – which it certainly isn’t. It is a real, layered and complicated story which develops Sally Morgan’s discovery of her identity and her family’s history and trauma with a gentle and loving refusal to become a stereotype. It comprises the voices and memories of three generations of Morgan’s family, Baligu people from the Pilbara region, living in suburban Perth in the 1950s.
My Place is a coming-of-age story about family, love and survival that you can immediately empathise with, and I think young people now will be better equipped to understand and act on its message than many readers were in 1987. I hope that new readers will appreciate the strength and truthtelling they find here as much as I did when I first read My Place. Edited to make it more accessible to a teen audience, it is essential reading in the context of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism work around the world; it is a beautiful example of how telling your own story can give you the ability to shape and reframe your identity on your own terms, overcoming prejudice in the process. An important theme in Aboriginal life-writing and memoir is the idea that telling your story is an act of radical survival, and, as enjoyable and engrossing as My Place is, it is still and most importantly Morgan’s own act of radical survival through writing. For ages 10+.