BabyMac Book Club: Mothers and Daughters {the discussion}

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I can only apologise right now, I am approximately 2 months late with this. OK, not quite 2 months, but pretty much. Life and end of year stuff got in the way and then well Christmas but here we are…back! With renewed reading vigour after the Christmas break.

THE SUMMARY

3 mothers and 3 teenage daughters head to a remote Aboriginal community near Broome in WA for a week to visit their friend and her daughter who have moved up there to live and teach. The book tells the stories of the relationship between the Mothers and their friends, between the teenagers themselves and with each other woven in between characters from the Aboriginal culture and a strong link to indigenous culture and history that is so strong in that part of Australia. This is the 4th book for Australian author Kylie Ladd who has a great sense of understanding of the modern complex female relationships with each other and themselves.

THE CHARACTERS

I will admit that when I was reading this was I was suffering from end of year exhaustion and MAJOR post Christmas preggo brain but I must say it took me a long time to work out who everyone was. I am blonde too. And not very smart. It was all the names, I couldn’t work out who was related to who (except for Mum and daughter living up in Broome)….see? I STILL can’t remember! Once I got the hang of it, I was about 3/4 of the way through. I loved how Ladd knows how females work. How relationships between friends work, between Mothers and Daughters work and how teenagers work. There are also some great characters from the local community in Broome who give us an insight to life as an indigenous Australian and how black and white people interact with each other (our own preconceptions and racial stereotypes).

What did you think of the characters and their relationships with each other?
Who did you relate to most of all?
Who would you like to have seen developed further?
Anyone you else get confused or was that just me?

NARRATIVE

The story flowed very easily and was hard to put down once you got into the groove of it (a sign of a good quality holiday read) with a good mixture of story from the relationships between adult women to the teenage girls and then to Mothers and Daughters. The scenery and location were so beautifully described I could see that water, those red rocks and certainly captured the beauty of a part of Australia I would love to visit one day.

What did you think of the chapter styles and flow of the story?
Did you think there was a good mixture of humour with serious stuff?

THEMES

There were some central themes in the book that stood out for me.

  • Puberty and teenage years – made me think a LOT about what it was like to be a teenager. About how uncertain we are at that time about who we are, who we want to be and what  confusing/awkward time it can be caught between our childhood and being grown up. I really related to the bitchy daughter who was trying to be more grown up then she should have been…oh how that was me.
  • Females – and what complex beasts we are!
  • Technology – our reliance on the stuff and how we don’t cope very well when it’s taken away from us (no wifi or phone reception at the community) and the modern age of Facebook and how teenagers are navigating their way through it.
  • Alcohol – again the Mum’s reliance on it and how much a part of our lives it is and how noticeable it is when it’s missing (no alcohol in the dry community) and how drinking can influence teenagers when growing up – how that can form their relationships with alcohol coming into adulthood.
  • Indigenous Australia – our own beliefs about how communities work versus the reality of it. Their relationships with each other, their art, the land, alcohol.
  • The landscape – the beauty of it and that particular part of Australia. I loved the way Kylie wrote about it (I believe she lived there for a year with her family) so she knows it well.

What did you think were important themes in the book?
Any that you thought were particularly insightful/interesting?

So there’s my two cents worth. Apart from me struggling with the characters (I totally blame preggo brain for that) I enjoyed the book. I liked the mixture of characters their relationships and particularly the setting and insights to Aboriginal communities in the area. It reminded me of many an awkward teenage moment and I was so glad that social media was NOT a thing when I was growing up!

But I’d love to hear what YOU think! Did you enjoy the book? The characters? Themes? Narrative style? Plot?

Comments

  1. I didn’t mind the book – it was enjoyable enough to read and included some interesting themes and I love books set in pretty locations as it makes me feel like I’m on a holiday… Like you I did get a little confused at the beginning also but eventually got the drift of who was who. As someone who has worked with Indigenous organisations in remote Top End Aboriginal communities (not that I’m claiming by ANY means to be an expert in their culture and relationships) I kind of felt that some of the parts about the culture and interactions with the people in the remote community came across just a little bit naïve…(I’m not sure if that’s the word I’m searching for… maybe just lacking depth) I don’t think the author is naïve as such but perhaps its just really bloody tough to communicate the complexities in such a novel? I thought the relationships between the women made a bit more sense to me but a couple of the characters did frustrate me as was probably the intention!

  2. http://Nicky says

    I agree it took me a long time to remember who belonged to who. It took me a little while to get into the story. I thought Bronte’s mother was awful to her and took her unhappy marriage and frustrations out on her daughter. It also made me think about my teenage years and how everyone is at different stages but at the time you don’t realise that, it made me think about mistakes I made as a teen wanting to seem more grown up than I was! It also made me think about drinking and how as women we do rely on it to “unwind”. I’m glad I read it, it’s not the sort of book I would have read if I hadn’t seen it on your blog

  3. Haha, I’m not pregnant and I found it very confusing working out who was who. It took me ages and I had to keep flicking back and then I thought the author was doing it on purpose. It was an OK easy read but I thought quite stereotypical and a bit annoying. I liked my other Christmas book better!

  4. I’m reading the book at the moment and I’m enjoying it, maybe because I only have teenage sons and its a total different dynamic. Another book altogether. I to had an issue to start with remembering who belonged to who but the more I read I’m getting the hang of it xx

    • Agree – so long as you keep with it and don’t leave it too much between reads you can slowly get the hang of it. Happy reading Beck 🙂

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