Saturday 23 January 2021

Girl of the Southern Sea

Girl of the Southern Sea
by Michelle Kadarusman (University of Queensland Press) RRP PB $16.99 ISBN 9780702262937

Reviewed by Kylie Buckley

Girl of the Southern Sea is a middle grade fiction novel set on the island of Java, Indonesia. The narrative is told in the first person by the smart and strong-willed female protagonist, Nia. Nia is fourteen years old and passionate about writing stories, especially those about Princess Dewi Kadita: Queen of the Southern Sea. She dreams of becoming a writer.

Nia lives with her father and younger brother along a train track in the slums of Jakarta. Her mother died five years ago giving birth to her brother. Her father sells fried bananas from a food cart near the train station and spends his spare time drinking. Due to her father’s failings, they do not have enough money for Nia to attend high school. Nia spends her time looking after her brother, managing the household chores and helping her father with their food cart. Her hope of becoming a writer seems out of reach.

Girl of the Southern Sea is suitable for children aged 12 years and over and recommended for those who enjoy learning about cultures other than their own. The story’s themes include courage, hope, family, poverty, and cultural traditions.

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