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Book Review: Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

Too Much Lip has been on of my books of the year. From the first page, I was pulled into the life of wise-cracking Kerry, as she encounters a magpie on her journey towards her hometown, which she had left years before.

The family who greets her is anything but functional, overseen by a violent brother and grandmother who is afraid to stir up the ghosts of the past.

However, the trauma of the past is exactly what needs to be discussed, as it is at the heart of the family’s dysfunction. This trauma hails back to their recently deceased grandfather’s experience of cruelty at the hands of white Australians.

And so, while Kerry had vowed to leave within 24 hours of arriving in her hometown, she finds herself caught in the family web, unable to tear herself away from old loyalties.

Lucashenko does not shy away from the problems within the Indigenous community, but also lays a trail back to the racism endured by her people.

This book was clever and illuminating, but I was most drawn to the beauty of Lucashenko’s language. It was lyrical and funny and smart. Every Australian should read Too Much Lip, which rightly won the 2019 Stella Prize, for their own understanding of the problems faced by the Indigenous community, and for their own enjoyment of a great book.

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