I have had the privilege to attend an intimate workshop presentation and listen to Clare discuss her experiences and writing process at the ALEA/AATE Conference in Darwin. Nona and Me sits beautifully within the conference theme of anticipating new territories: building strong minds, places and futures.
Reading the novel transported me back into the self-conscious world of the teenager – questioning my understanding of fledgling relationships and recalling those jarring moments when we let ourselves and others down. These are moments we all experience, yet Atkins writes convincingly about both females and males in exploring the contentious area of race relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
Atkins made real the collaboration and mutual respect she encountered while living in the remote Aboriginal community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land. The cultural knowledge, language and landscape are effectively detailed in a way that doesn’t distract from the action of the narrative. Nona and Me primarily represents the relationship of two females, yet there are also strong male characters who make the novel suitable for all young adult readers.
Adolescence is a period of flux and tension that is not always successfully navigated. Sensitive issues, such as suicide, are embraced as real occurrences that require compassion when explored in the class room even though this is likely to be painful.
Read more about Clare’s work.
Visit the Penguin site.