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Girl of the Southern Sea
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Girl of the Southern Sea
From Governor General's Literary Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman, an empowering novel about a girl from the slums of Jakarta who dreams of an education and the chance at a better life From the time...
From Governor General's Literary Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman, an empowering novel about a girl from the slums of Jakarta who dreams of an education and the chance at a better life From the time...
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  • From Governor General's Literary Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman, an empowering novel about a girl from the slums of Jakarta who dreams of an education and the chance at a better life

    From the time she was a little girl, Nia has dreamed up adventures about the Javanese mythical princess, Dewi Kadita. Now fourteen, Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs too much. Her father sells banana fritters at the train station, but too much of his earnings go toward his drinking habit. Too often Nia is left alone to take over the food cart as well as care for her brother and their home in the Jakarta slums.

    But Nia is determined to find a way to earn her school fees. After she survives a minibus accident unharmed and the locals say she is blessed with 'good luck magic,' Nia exploits the notion for all its worth by charging double for her fried bananas. Selling superstitions can be dangerous, and when the tide turns it becomes clear that Nia's future is being mapped without her consent.

    If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of for her mythical princess, and summon courage she isn't sure she has.

    A portion of the proceeds from this #ownvoices story are in support of Plan International Canada Because I Am A Girl

About the Author-

  • Michelle Kadarusman grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and has also lived in Indonesia and Canada. Her middle-grade novel The Theory of Hummingbirds was a finalist for the Forest of Reading Silver Birch Award, the MYRCA Sundogs Award, and the SYRCA Diamond Willow Award. Her 2019 novel Girl of the Southern Sea is a Junior Library Guild selection. Michelle lives in Toronto, Canada, and is looking forward to soon spending more time in Australia.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2019

    Gr 6 Up-Nia lives in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia, with her younger brother and her alcoholic father. Her mother died giving birth to her brother. Her father is irresponsible and leaves Nia to take care of her brother, tend to their home, and help earn money for their family. There are fees for high school, and Nia's family doesn't have enough money for her to get a high school education and pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Still, she meets with a friend to review their textbooks and keep up their studies and Nia continues to write stories about Dewi Kadits, a character in Java's traditional folklore. She knows one of the three most important rules of living in the slum are to never disobey your father, but her father's behavior requires her to be independent and make serious decisions. A gripping, emotional realistic novel describing the grim realities of growing up in Indonesian poverty. A glossary of Indonesian words is included at the front of the book and a map provides the location of the story's setting. The author's note explains how the seeds of this story were planted long ago when Kadarusman observed poverty while traveling with her family to her father's hometown in West Java. VERDICT A riveting read featuring a determined and talented teenager.-Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2019
    A teenage girl living in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, finds the resolve to defy her unfortunate circumstances and achieve her dreams. Fourteen-year-old Nia desperately wants to continue her education and become a writer, but her family can't afford the school fees. Instead, she spends her days looking after her 5-year-old brother, Rudi, doing chores, and helping her alcoholic father sell banana fritters at the market. To escape their miserable existence, Nia tells Rudi stories about their late mother and writes stories inspired by her favorite folktale, "Queen of the Southern Sea." And just as she promised her late mother, Nia ensures that the protagonist in her stories, Dewi Kadita, always comes out on top. One day, Nia miraculously escapes from a minibus accident unscathed. Smooth operator Oskar witnesses the accident and embellishes her survival into "a miracle"; from then on, Nia's "good-luck magic" fritters sell like hot cakes. Against her good judgement, Nia starts charging double so she can save up for her school fees. But things backfire and tension mounts. In the end, Nia draws strength from her heroine, Dewi, and finds the courage to seize control of her own destiny. Punctuating Nia's thoughtful, present-tense narration with her stories about Dewi, Kadarusman effectively weaves a gentle tale of love and loss and illuminates the power of storytelling.A thought-provoking peek into a culture deserving of more attention in North America. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 15, 2019
    Grades 4-7 In this contemporary tale set in the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia, a talented girl resolves to become a writer in spite of poverty, her father's alcoholism, and grief over her mother's death. Nia's dreams of pursuing higher education are put on hold when she has to take over her father's fried banana cart because he squanders his earnings on alcohol instead of feeding Nia and her younger brother. When she survives a minibus crash, the community believes that Nia has miraculous abilities, which she is influenced to use to her advantage. In spare and elegant prose, Kadarusman weaves a quiet tale of survival, grit, and integrity. As Nia struggles to decide between right and wrong, she also takes care of her sibling, confronts the male figures in her life, and builds supportive relationships with female characters. Peppered throughout are stories that Nia crafts, based on Indonesian legends about the princess of the Southern Sea. With nuanced characters, this is a lovely gem for fans of irrepressible girls and contemporary stories set outside of the U.S.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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