One Hundred Days by Alice Pung [6/10]

A crackling coming-of-age tale from the heart of multicultural Australia, “One Hundred Days” injects the reader into the tumultuous world of sixteen-year-old Karuna, pregnant and un-partnered, and her generational battle of love and control. Karuna’s mother, a volatile Filipina bride-migrant, passionately still very much imbued with her home culture, takes charge and tries to lock Karuna up in their tiny housing-commission flat, lock her up for her pregnancy term and beyond, for the traditional “hundred days.” Karuna is an engaging, aware, full-hearted innocent, and the hundred days in question tests her and her familial bonds.

The author is an immersive stylist adept at placing a reader (in feverish first person argot) at the juncture between two cultures. The inner city of Melbourne in the 1980s teems with life. A fascinating, enjoyable read, One Hundred Days failed to grip me with character-based plotting high points but provided a healthy, welcome view of a world very different to mine, and for that I am grateful.

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