Book Reviews

Book Review: Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Book Review Girl of the Southern Sea

Fourteen-year-old Nia is a gifted student and longs to attend high school to become a writer. Her mother has died in childbirth & her bapak (father) drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Nia is responsible for looking after her younger brother & keeping the family fed but also, cannot financially afford to attend school. Despite this, Nia continues to weave stories about Princess Dewi Kadita, the goddess of the sea and gains strength from this. When she narrowly escapes a bus accident, she is thought to have magical powers & is convinced to sell her popular banana fritters – the family business – for double, the price as the good luck will pass to others. She reluctantly agrees to this plan because it might help her save money for an education. But can her good luck last? 

This was a lovely middle-grade novel set in Indonesia with themes of courage and resilience and where we draw strength. Kadarusman is an Indonesian-Australian author currently living in Canada. With vivid descriptions of place, as a reader you’re drawn into the setting and the story. What stood out for me was the value placed on education and how in the western world, it is something that’s taken for granted. Growing up in India myself, I knew how privileged I was to obtain an education when I saw so many girls like Nia not being able to access the same. It reminded me of a documentary I’d watched years ago – Girl Rising

Nia is a feisty character and one that I’m sure a lot of young girls will like. However, she did seem younger than 14 to me at least, & came across as eleven or twelve. That said, it didn’t take away anything from the story & I enjoyed how she challenged the mythological story of Dewi Kadita & came up with her own versions. This is a heartwarming read for those who enjoy middle-grade fiction. Thanks to UQP books and Aus YA bloggers for gifting me a copy of this book and for having me as part of the book tour.

 My rating:

Book details:

CategoryChildren’s Fiction
Publishing Date2 February 2021

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