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Based on aboriginal beliefs, a yea-saying —wisdom book— by the author of the originally self-published Mutant Message Down Under, which, by 1994, had sold 370,000 copies in Australia alone. In the 1930s, an aboriginal pair of twins is born in the Australian outback. Neighboring whites, English-born and established in a mission settlement, are bent on —improving— the lives of native dwellers: —For forty years, the church had been building mission stations to house adult indigenous people extracted from the wilderness to civilize, educate, and save their souls.— As ruthless as they are righteous, the white folk forcibly remove the infant twins from their native mother. For the boy, named Geoff, this means that —at the age of seventy-two hours, the twin had severed all connection to his blood heritage. . . and would now become the ward of a wealthy, white rural family.— Meanwhile, his sister Beatrice struggles to make do in a ghastly Catholic orphanage. She’s denied an education, she’s molested by a priest, and she’s compelled to have a hysterectomy at age nine before graduating to a slave-labor job in a boardinghouse. By his mid-20s, the boy--now an alcoholic--has received a life sentence without parole, having been falsely accused of a double murder. The story is then given back to Beatrice. Dropping everything and hungry to understand her origins, she heads for the outback, where she ends up living with the Karoon (—first, original, unchanged—) tribe of Real People for 30 years. Coming from a Christian civilization, she fears that her forebears, whom she’s disposed to like, will disappoint her as models of human life. Instead, she enters their Dreamtime, becomes spiritually politicized to the Forever, and eventually reenters the outside world to work for the return of aborigines being held in foreign prisons. Morgan’s unflamboyant, matter-of-fact prose tends to keep euphoric philosophizing in check. Overall, her version of aboriginal life sounds much less presumptuous than New Ageism, and far more attractive.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-019107-4
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998