Rachel Robertson reviews 'A Tear in the Soul' by Amanda Webster

Rachel Robertson reviews 'A Tear in the Soul' by Amanda Webster

A Tear in the Soul

by Amanda Webster

NewSouth $29.99 pb, 288 pp, 9781742235134

A Tear in the Soul is a fine example of creative non-fiction that unfolds a personal story but also advances our knowledge of Australian society, past and present. It is a nuanced contribution to the growing body of literature in which contemporary non-Indigenous Australians attempt to make sense of the history of white settlement and take responsibility for our own complicity in the past and current treatment of Indigenous peoples. In combining a personal quest to reconnect to her past with an exploration of 1960s Kalgoorlie and a moral self-examination, Webster has written a book in which story and idea interweave to engage and move us, even while we are forced to confront disturbing material.

Webster was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, her father and grandfather both local doctors. When she started school in the 1960s, she met Aboriginal children from the nearby Kurrawang Mission, who, she assumed, were orphans happily living in a caring community. She became particularly friendly with Bronwyn, who spent a summer holiday with Webster’s family in Esperance, and took a shine to a boy called Tony. Forty years later, a discussion with colleagues triggers a return to Western Australia to track down her friends. She is able to find them only after meeting Gregory Ugle, Tony’s brother, who has self-published a story about his years at Kurrawang.

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Published in December 2016, no. 387
Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson is a West Australian writer and lecturer in professional writing at Curtin University. She was the joint winner (with Mark Tredinnick) of the 2008 Australian Book Review Calibre Prize for Outstanding Essay. Rachel’s essays and short fiction have been published in anthologies and journals such as Griffith Review, Island, Life Writing, Westerly, and Best Australian Essays 2008. She is the author of Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism (2012) and co-editor of Purple Prose (2015).

Comments (1)

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    Yes Amanda thank you so much you not only a friend and a soul mate sister of mine without you friendship I couldn't been another person in life and a great thank you to your family for taking on those holiday a long time ago love Bronny

    Thursday, 08 December 2016 01:37 posted by  Bronwyn

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