A heart-wrenching story and another great Australian read. Nona & Me by Clare Atkins is about Rosie, a teen, who wants to fit in and by doing so, she rejects her association with Aboriginals including her family friends who are more than friends. She has known them all her life. She does the most hurtful thing: ignoring her former best friend Nona whom she hasn’t seen for several years.
Nona soon drops out of school and Rosie, preoccupied with friends, school and boys, is having the time of her life. However, Rosie starts having conflicting feelings and thoughts. She defends and not defend Aboriginals from her boyfriend and so-called friends who reveal themselves to be disrespectful and racist each time she hangs out with them.
And she slowly regrets pushing Nona and her Aboriginal family away. But it might not be too late to patch up…
Nona & Me deals with teens and peer pressure, racism and Aboriginals’ place in the community, balancing them nicely (along with a respectful portrayal of Yolŋu culture and use of its language). Although some Aboriginals are portrayed with stereotypical traits, the book explains their behaviour and it really hurts. Racism effects people deeply and ruins them.
I was glad that the white saviour trope wasn’t a major thing in this book. Both Aboriginals (they can take care of themselves) and whites work together to make progress. Nona doesn’t need help from Rosie, she’s fine with the life she has planned – though Rosie does help a bit with her goal to be a nurse.
In the end, being with a true friend and accepting who you are are more important than fitting in with the cool crowd and a hot boyfriend.
Nona and Rosie forever.