Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes
This is a moving book. And if I am honest, it is not one I would have picked up myself had I been browsing in a book store.
I read to escape and take myself away from the real world. To immerse myself in fantasy. This means that as a general rule I don’t go for heavy historical fiction steeped in strife.
When this came my way as something to possibly review I almost turned it away – but the underlying musical aspect intrigued me. I’m glad I didn’t pass. This was an amazing book. And I was fairly shocked to reach the end, see the author’s picture and realize it was written by a dude.
We drift between the life and realities of 2 different characters. Ruby and Virginia. Virginia’s story starts in the 1950’s in the Australian bush. Not a lovely fun time to be one of the native peoples there. I am ashamed to admit I knew next to nothing about the inequities and hardships faced by aboriginals in Australia. The harrowing journey of a young Virgina and the circumstances surrounding her young life are heartbreaking.
As we watch her growup much to fast it is hard not to yell at those who visit cruelty upon her or stand by and do nothing to stop it.
Young Ruby does not have an easy life either here in our present, but there is one large differing factor. Ruby has a grandmother who loves her and fights for her. And it makes all the difference. The harsh reality that surrounds her is made bearable by the love and support of her grandmother and cousins.
Now I mentioned music earlier, and it plays a very important role in this story. Both of our main characters find joy, meaning and escape in music. Specifically the violin. The way music and a specific musical instrument are used almost as a character in this novel is flabbergasting. There is a palpable thereness to the violin as a sentient object – a receptacle for the hopes and dreams, fears and secrets of those who play it.
As I am sure you have guessed these 2 stories intertwine – the past and the present meet. I will not spoil any of that for you – but it is beautifully done. The ugliness that each has suffered and endured, and for one of the characters inflicted on others, would win in so many real life stories. Seeing how it can be smothered and overcome is an inspiration.
Well done Mr. Mayes.
I was provided a gratis copy for review.