Here Where We Live reviewed by Kate

Here Where We Live compiles short stories, written by Cassie Flanagan Willanski. Each story is based around a white Australian’s experience of Aboriginal Australia.

As it is with short stories, I really enjoyed some, while others didn’t jump out at me or make much sense as to how they fit in with the theme of the book. ‘Drought Core’ stood out, as a woman takes her daughters into country, and lives in a town where Aboriginal people are the leaders, and Aboriginal tradition and dreamtime is respected. ‘Karko’ weaves Aboriginal dreamtime and heroes into a white student’s life, with the tale depicting the likeness and difference between the two cultures and beliefs beautifully.

And then there is ‘Oak Trees in the Desert’ – where a group of women who are anti-nuclear meet in the US to talk about their experiences of nuclear testing. This depicts so much of what has happened to Aboriginal Australians, and Indigenous families all over the world. The destruction of nature, dreamtime spaces and lives because white men want to test nuclear weapons and exposure. Maralinga and the nuclear testing that occurred there is the Australian focus, and is devastating. This story captures the pain felt to this day due to the testing at sites, and the impact it has on families and communities, including those who belonged to the white community who were involved.

Here Where We Live captures country beautifully and what it means to many.

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