Girl of the Southern Sea

224p. Pajama Pr. May 2019. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781772780819.
Gr 6 Up—Nia lives in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia, with her younger brother and her alcoholic father. Her mother died giving birth to her brother. Her father is irresponsible and leaves Nia to take care of her brother, tend to their home, and help earn money for their family. There are fees for high school, and Nia's family doesn't have enough money for her to get a high school education and pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Still, she meets with a friend to review their textbooks and keep up their studies and Nia continues to write stories about Dewi Kadits, a character in Java's traditional folklore. She knows one of the three most important rules of living in the slum are to never disobey your father, but her father's behavior requires her to be independent and make serious decisions. A gripping, emotional realistic novel describing the grim realities of growing up in Indonesian poverty. A glossary of Indonesian words is included at the front of the book and a map provides the location of the story's setting. The author's note explains how the seeds of this story were planted long ago when Kadarusman observed poverty while traveling with her family to her father's hometown in West Java.
VERDICT A riveting read featuring a determined and talented teenager.

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