This has to be one of the most relatable and intriguing stories I’ve ever read. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. The issues and conflicts that the characters faced were so realistic, that it felt like I was part of them too. It’s been a while since I came across a novel like this.
Shauana’s Great Expectations follows the story of Shauna in her last year of high school at the boarding school she got a scholarship to in Sydney, years ago. Faced with everyday reality of what Aboriginals and non-whites face, it really brings out many themes. When Shauna thinks everything’s going her way—suddenly things to crumble. Studies get in the way, personal problems occur and it doubts friendships. It doesn’t help when a new student on the Aboriginal scholarship arrives and Shauna has to be her mentor. It just adds to the list. With two goals in mind, a university and a trip to Paris, Shauna hopes to survive the end of the year.
A big thank you to AusYaBloggers and Allen & Unwin who provided me a copy to review for the Instagram Book Tour! In no way does the process of receiving this book, influence my opinion.
The plot itself was interesting, an Aboriginal girl in a white majority boarding school. First chapter already gives off the central theme in the novel. Racism. Even when the main character isn’t partially involved. Once she reached St. Augustine, we’re introduced to the racism and kudos to Loughan who spoke broadly about them. Until the climax it was good and entertaining, I couldn’t put the book down! Though, I noticed it dragged afterwards with unnecessary situations that happened.
Shauana’s character was so powerful throughout the story and just her values and reactions toward certain situations made me go, wow… she’s not afraid. She doesn’t give up when she wants something. Throughout the entire book, Shauna’s head is up toward her friends and family. Lowkey sad that Andrew wasn’t involved a lot—in the beginning it sort of gave the impression he’d be in the book often. One thing I disliked about Shauna was that she assumed everyone was a racist. Well, when someone looked at her differently, she took it in a bad way, especially with Nathan! Poor Nathan…
Olivia was a fifty, fifty for me. I think she’d been fine, not coming into the book but then again the author also showed how an individual will feel out of place, even in their own background. Shauna’s reaction to Olivia is quite typical, thinking all Aboriginals look the same. This further justify for example, I’m from South Africa but many people question my skin colour and hair. Then, there’s Keli Street-Hugh’s perspective who assumes Olivia is like her. People base you off a lot on your colour even if they don’t mean to—it’s just natural.
There’s two other characters who Shauana shares her dorm with. Although, I found them irrelevant. They didn’t contribute much to the story apart from comments and a car ride. I think the author just needed to dwindle in two diverse characters who I think are from India and Greece?
When I got chosen to review this book, I didn’t know what I was in for. I vaguely had an idea but coming to terms, I’m satisfied knowing I barely knew what would happen. It would’ve taken the whole essence away of such a diversely racial novel. I’ve yet to read others related that speak about such controversial topics yet still make it Young Adult. There were times I related to Shauna and for once, not emotionally but for what she went through. I’ve been in similar situations and to see how that didn’t tear her down but build herself up, motivates me to be proud of who I am and where I come from.
This book should definitively be added to your To Be Read List! A unique and well written YA novel with strong themes! An outspoken female main character and intriguing plot line. I’ve rated this four out five! You can find more about the author here.