Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Gift of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes

Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes
Published Date: October 2012
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: YA

The Story: In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia's prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.

Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby, plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother's frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help; she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity.

My Review:  When I read the background of this book, I HAD to read it.  Personally, I started playing the violin in 4th grade.  But I still enjoy and play it today. 
Reading about Ruby, who discovers her nana’s violin and how Virginia (the nana) realizes her talent was passed to Ruby, was wonderful.   I could hear the music playing, the sounds from practice.  Dean gives us glimpses into Virginia’s past, which shows us why she’s the way she is now.  Ruby just lives in the moment, and is very stubborn!  It saddens me reading about what happened to Virginia.  Also, we’re shown the life that Ruby was born into, and how her playing the violin has brought hope to everyone.  This is such an awe inspiring book, that I couldn’t believe it ended.  I would have loved to have kept reading. 

Dean writes so beautifully, that you can hear the music playing.  You feel the emotions that are poured into compositions from the artists.  I felt like I was back in orchestra, listening to a playback of a performance.  I really LOVED this book.


  1. I would like to thank you for reviewing my novel and providing such a positive and constructive review. It is of course very encouraging to see learned musicians like yourself praise the depiction of the violin as I went into this project with only a basic appreciation of the instrument. Now, some two years later, I feel that I not only know the violin - I truly love it.

    Again, my thanks for taking the time to review my novel ahead of it's October 26th launch.

    1. Thank you for contacting me! Well, I guess your publisher did. But thank you for writing this novel. I truly love it.

    2. Ahh - yes, Michelle must take credit for the work she has put in getting word out there to reviewers. The team at Central Avenue have been an amazing support to me in bringing the manuscript from its very rough beginnings to the final novel.

  2. Another wonderful book by a talented writer. A must read!

    1. Thank you Darlene. Your encouragement of course, means a great deal.



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