Pamela Rushby, Interned, Walker Books, March 2022, 256 pp., RRP $17.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760653019
A story told in the alternating voices of Gretta and Tilly, two young girls of German origin who have been wrenched from their comfortable, happy lives to find themselves interned in a camp in rural NSW during WW1 and classed as enemy aliens. Gretta comes from a life of privilege in Singapore, her dad a wealthy businessman. She had hopes of returning to Germany to follow her dream of studying music before the war broke out. Tilly comes from a more modest home life in Brisbane. Her dad, a baker, makes the best rye bread, pretzels and apple strudel and her mum is always singing. But then life changes, forever.
A carefully researched, well-paced mid-grade novel for 9 – 13 year olds, Pamela Rushby, author of over 200 books, skilfully recreates the sights, sounds and feel of the times: an Australia steeped in its Anglo Saxon heritage and small mindedness. We experience the racism, prejudice, and adversity that the two young protagonists and their families confront, as they struggle to find their way in new and very different lives.
A part of our history that is often forgotten, this welcome addition to Australian children/young literature, will hopefully inform the young to see beyond our differences to our common humanity.
Highly recommended for home or school library.
Reviewed by Mem Capp