Tuesday, October 9, 2007

If Everyone Cared - Margaret Tucker MBE (1977)

Margaret Tucker's If Everyone Cared is a book that is both significant as a matter of national record, and of personal relevance to me, as it deals to some extent with my own family's history and struggles.

An autobiographical account, If Everyone Cared deals primarily with the methodology and ramifications of the Stolen Generations that were a result of government policy over much of the 20th Century in Australia, where by children were removed from their families and placed in camps where a higher degree of education and personal development was supposed to have taken place. Detailed within the book are Margaret Tucker's family life as a child, her education and then the heartache and pain caused by Margaret's forced removal from her mother, and her placement in a concentration camp at Cootamundra in southern NSW. As the book progresses it follows Margaret's new and somewhat torturous life as a servant, her interactions with the families that hire her and the continuing efforts of her mother Theresa Clements in petitioning the government for the return of her child.

There are few books that deal with the subject matter of the Stolen Generations, or that go as heavily into detail as Margaret Tucker's book does. The author examines the immediate and long term ramifications on the children in question and the families left behind, placing the events into a context that allows Margaret to make sense of her life and to forgive those that have committed wrongs against both Margaret and her family.

The book can be a trying experience, and one that has had a deep and lasting influence upon many of those who have read it - and with good reason. Tucker speaks from the heart and in a raw, unpolished manner, where only the basic facts and truths are placed before the reader. The struggle to survive when the odds are stacked against you is a universal theme that anyone with a caring heart can relate to, and it is that raw nature that allows the author to share her deepest and most personal tragedies and triumphs.

Whilst the standard of writing may not be exceptional, it's the subject matter and how openly the author has presented it that makes this a book worthy of anyone's time. It is one that should be part of the required reading list of any high school aged child in Australia, and would go a long way toward bettering relationships, tolerance and understanding in the many instances where it is currently found greatly lacking.

For further reading:

Altitude article - Jennifer Jones, University of Melbourne
Natonal Foundation for Australian Women - Biographical entry

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