One Hundred Days


Alice Pung is such an accomplished writer, she slides between memoir, non-fiction, young adult and now adult fiction with ease and grace. Although the central character of One Hundred Days, Karuna, is only sixteen, I'm guessing that the cover blurbs from Maxine Beneba Clark and Christos Tsiolkas position this novel as an adult book. However, I think it could easily be recommended to young adults. 

One Hundred Days is told by Karuna, who is struggling to emerge from what she experiences as the smothering over-protection of her Filipino-born Chinese mother after Karuna's father abandoned them. When Karuna becomes pregnant, the struggle shifts to the expected baby: will it be raised and acknowledged as Karuna's child, or her mother's? Shame and power, love and resentment, anger and humour, are beautifully balanced in this story as Karuna fights not just for herself, but for her baby's future.

I loved this book so much I gave it to my mother-in-law. It's a real family story, though the family has shrunk to its smallest configuration -- mother and daughter. The way that little family eventually expands is the heart of this very Australian, illuminating and warm novel.

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