Book Review The White Girl by Tom Birch

Book Review: The White Girl

Today I’m joining the Book Blog Tour to share my book review of The White Girl by Tony Birch. This award-winning fictional thriller about a town divided, exposes the life-shattering consequences of forced family separation

Where Are We Touring To?

Author Tony Birch takes us to a small town in rural Australia in the 1960s.

Book Cover Notes

Australia’s leading indigenous storyteller makes his American debut with this immersive and deeply resonant novel, set in the 1960s, that explores the lengths we’ll go to save the people we love—an unforgettable story of one native Australian family and the racist government that threatens to separate them.

Odette Brown has lived her entire life on the fringes of Deane, a small Australian country town. Dark secrets simmer beneath the surface of Deane—secrets that could explain why Odette’s daughter, Lila, left her one-year-old daughter, Sissy, and never came back, or why Sissy has white skin when her family is Aboriginal.

For thirteen years, Odette has quietly raised her granddaughter without drawing notice from welfare authorities who remove fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. But the arrival of a new policeman with cruel eyes and a rigid by-the-book attitude throws the Brown women’s lives off-kilter. It will take all of Odette’s courage and cunning to save Sissy from the authorities, and maybe even lead her to find her daughter.

Bolstered by love, smarts, and the strength of their ancestors, Odette and Sissy are an indomitable force, handling threats to their family and their own identities with grace and ingenuity, while never losing hope for themselves and their future.

In The White Girl, Miles Franklin Award-nominated author Tony Birch illuminates Australia’s devastating post-colonial past—notably the government’s racist policy of separating Indigenous children from their families, known today as the Stolen Generations—and introduces a tight-knit group of charming, inspiring characters who remind us of our shared humanity, and that kindness, hope, and love have no limits.

My Thoughts

The White Girl reveals some of the social and cultural history of Australia I wasn’t aware of. Through the author’s storytelling we follow the astonishing story of Odette Brown, a strong independent Aboriginal woman. She is a mother and grandmother living in rural Australia in a small town divided by whites and Aboriginal people.

In this heart-wrenching story, we learn of the challenges and hardships Aboriginal Australians have endured due to cruelty and injustice. I loved Odette’s character, a strong, kind woman whose family and traditions were deep rooted in the only place she has ever known and lived.

When her daughter suddenly leaves home, she is determined to protect her fair-skinned granddaughter until her daughter returns. Odette’s granddaughter Sissy is now thirteen years old and Odette is running out of time, she needs to find her daughter to safe guard her granddaughters future.

I liked how the story was narrated by both the grandmother and the granddaughter. Both sharing an unwavering love for each other whilst secretly wondering how they will survive and what their future will hold. Although this is a fictional tale, it’s an insightful read and gave a real sense of the courage and strength of indigenous women. They are proud, kind and respectful people who have been dreadfully mistreated.


This is the sort of book everyone should read. It reminds us that no matter where we’re from, or the colour of our skin, we are all human beings. I think The White Girl would make a wonderful, heart-warming film.

Where To Buy

Amazon UK

Further book info

  • Publication date: 28 April 2022
  • Publisher: HarperVia
  • Page count: 272

About The Author

The White Girl by Tony Birch
Author Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl, winner of the 2020 NSW Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing, and shortlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin literary prize; Ghost River, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing; and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2012.

He is also the author of Shadowboxing and four short story collections, Dark As Last Night, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People; and the poetry collections, Broken
Teeth and Whisper Songs. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature. Tony Birch is also an activist, historian and essayist.

Where To Find Tony Online


Blog Tour Organised by

Random Things Tours

Many thanks to Anne @randomttours for inviting me on the book blog tour to share my book review of The White Girl by Tony Birch. Thanks also to the author and Harper UK for my copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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