Songs That Sound like Blood (Jared Thomas, Magabala)
Growing up in Port Augusta is restricting Roxy’s dream to become a musician, but when she is accepted to Adelaide University’s Centre of Aboriginal Studies in Music, she feels conflicted about leaving her hometown and family. Once at uni, Roxy immerses herself in student life: her studies progress and her musical abilities improve; she becomes politically involved with a community of Indigenous students opposing tertiary budget cuts; and she finds herself drawn to half-Maori student Ana. With the help of Ana and student services, Roxy finds the resilience to face the many pressures in her life, particularly her family’s expectations for her and her relationships. Jared Thomas’ novel is a coming-of-age story about acceptance, belonging and the importance of artistic expression in defining a culture and identity. It is littered with references to music genres, artists and songs, which shape Roxy’s character and identity well beyond her race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Similar to Thomas’ previous book Calypso Summer, Songs That Sound like Blood is sure to prompt conversations among teens about the treatment of marginalised groups. It is highly recommended for readers aged 14 and up, and a great addition to the conversation around diversity in YA.
Braiden Asciak is a freelance writer and bookseller at Book Bonding in Melbourne