The Last Daughter (Brenda Matthews, Text)
The Last Daughter might be one of the most important books an Australian could read. In particular, it counteracts misconceptions and disinformation about the Stolen Generations. Brenda Matthews, proud Wiradjuri woman and co-director of the documentary of the same name, has written a memoir about the experience of one family—then two families, then three—through the eyes of one woman. It is the story of how Matthews and her siblings were taken from their parents one day, without reason, not to be returned for years. It is the story of how easily it was done, the insidious bureaucracy that allowed it, and how racism pervades the lives of First Nations families in Australia. Matthews’ writing style is sparing, clear and honest—and completely overwhelming. Her prose presents cold facts in a warm way. The Last Daughter is also a love story and a detective story, as the author gradually reunites with two stolen families and uncovers the disgusting web of patronising lies that enabled the government to take children away from their parents without remorse. This memoir is not for the faint of heart, but it is a book for anyone with a heart. Readers of Black and Blue by Veronica Gorrie will appreciate Matthews’ powerful story.
Books+Publishing reviewer: Rebecca Whitehead is a freelance writer from Melbourne. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.