Discussion notes for this deeply moving memoir.
Delivered on the banks of the Mainoru River by her two full-blood grandmothers, Marie Munkara was born with light skin which meant one thing – it would only be a matter of time before she would be taken by the authorities and given to a white family to be raised. Then twenty-eight years later an old baptismal card falling out of a book changed the course of her life forever. It was a link to her past.
Heartbreaking and darkly funny, Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea is a moving choice for your next book club pick.
Reading Group Questions
- Marie states, and lives by the statement: There is no stolen and there is no lost, there is no black and there is no white. There is just me. As we have come to understand the concepts, Marie was stolen, and she is black. What do you think of her approach to her own story?
- Without seeking them out, Marie discovered details of her early life at 28 years of age. This new knowledge sent her on an extraordinary adventure. How would you react to meeting a whole new family at 28 do you think?
- What does Marie’s story add to our discussions of nature versus nurture? Are we a product of genes? Our family? And what is a family?
- Marie was surprised to discover that readers responded to the humour in Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea. She hadn’t realised how funny it is in parts. Is humour a mask? A device? Or simply a natural part of life?
- A review in The Age said “underpinning the laughter are acute political statements about the poverty of her people.” Did you read the memoir as an indictment on conditions amongst our indigenous communities, or the telling of a complex life?