by Jan Gross
Sid Harta Publishers, $24.95 pb, 382 pp, 9781921829581
The premise of Jam Dreaming is worthwhile; three cultures and generations meet over food. Eileen is an Aboriginal girl who lives in a squat. She is grieving for her mother, who died of alcoholism. Trying to find warmth beside a restaurant at night, she stumbles into the life of Mama Jocsdi, who cooks traditional European food. Mama’s sister, Nellie, with whom she escaped the Nazis, remains an elusive character.Eileen also makes friends with two other elderly women; Aboriginal matriarch Aunty Lois, and her sister. Eileen begins to learn skills and identity from these women.