Taboo, written by Kim Scott, is about so many things; the Noongar people and their traditional beliefs and country, Tilly – a young woman who has just found out she is Noongar, a family’s ongoing issues with culture, alcohol and drugs, and a Peace Park to try and bring reconciliation to a site where the massacre of many Aboriginal people occurred – referred to as Taboo.
Kim Scott has written an amazing story with so many strong stories within it – each with its own threads and then all woven into one. Tilly is an older adolescent who has been through many challenges – foster families, domestic violence, boarding school and finding her Aboriginality and culture. Tilly is a strong character who is the hero of the story as she follows her Noongar ancestors and spirits on a road trip to Taboo. Tilly is joined by twins Gerry and Gerald, her uncles, who have many stories in their own pasts and who Tilly is trying to trust and get to know. The elders in the story are a range of kind, compassionate, strong people who are leading the young ones and those who need it on their journey to Taboo.
Dreamtime magic and belief is woven in and gives a glimpse of the beauty and richness of the Noongar culture. Western culture and the influence and impact this has had on traditional beliefs and life is told both blatantly and in more subtle ways. I loved Taboo – there is some graphic violence and sexual abuse in it, which is a stark contrast to the beautiful dreamtime stories and cultural beliefs that are woven in this book, but also place the story in its contemporary place and position.