Belonging – some suggested related texts

These notes have been prepared by Helen Sykes. Helen can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by phone on 0247 225 889 or 0413 873 369.
Access the website for Dwayne Hopwood’s Nelson Belonging: a text for senior English students at

The Arrival
by Shaun Tan. Lothian Books 2006. ISBN-13 978-0-7344-0694-1. 128 pp.
Wordless picture book/ graphic novel
This an extraordinary representation of the migrant experience, including temporary separation from family. The visual images are very powerful, including a combination of photo-realistic images with the surreal, capturing the notion that to the migrant in a foreign land everything is bizarre. Tan has used sepia tones, appropriate for telling the historical experience.
This is suitable for use at all levels.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
by M. T. Anderson. Walker Books, 2007. ISBN-13: 9781844282111. 368 pp.
Young adult novel.
This is a powerful and original young adult novel about the big questions: are all human beings equal? does any human being have the right to own others? how important is personal freedom? It is set at the time of the American Revolution and tells the story of a young man who is the subject of an experiment.
This is a book for good readers – and readers who are prepared to be patient. Although it is a young adult novel, it is perfectly suitable for Advanced students and for the best Standard students.

Big Fat Manifesto
by Susan Vaught. Random House Australia, 2008. ISBN-13 9781741663037. 308 pp.
Young adult novel.
This American young adult novel is a warm and ultimately positive story about body image. Jamie, in her final year at high school, writes a column in the student paper – her ‘big fat manifesto’, complaining about the poor press given to fat people and arguing, in effect, that fat is beautiful.
This would be a good text for Standard girls.

The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger. Penguin Books, 1994 (1951). ISBN-13 9780140237504, 208 pp.
Adult novel.
This is the ultimate novel about disaffected youth – the book that for good or ill spawned the young adult novel.
This is enjoyed by most students.

Destroying Avalon by Kate McCaffrey
by Kate McCaffrey. Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2006. ISBN-13: 9781921064579. 177 pp.
Young adult novel.
This is a high-interest young adult novel about cyberbullying. The viciousness of the language is interesting – does cyberspace provide teenagers with a sense of distance that allows them to be more vile than they would be face to face? There is a very strong representation of school cliques – the A Group (or the Bitches), the Weirdos and Queeros – and of contemporary teenage language.
This is a good choice for Standard students.

Does my Head Look Big in This?
by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Pan. ISBN-13: 9780330421850. 151 pp.
Young adult novel.
This is an engaging first-person narrative about life as an Australian Muslim girl. It is very much about cultural symbols and belonging.
This would be a good text for Standard girls.

The Glory Garage: Growing up Lebanese and Muslim in Australia
by Nadia Jamal and Taghred Chandab. Allen & Unwin, 2005. ISBN-13: 9781741146493. 182 pp.
This is strictly speaking a collection of essays about what it means to be Australian, female, Lebanese and Muslim. However, it reads much more like a collection of short stories. The essays are personalised accounts of the lives of a number of young women, including the authors.
This is a good Standard and ESL text. Students can concentrate on an individual essay.

Growing Up Asian in Australia
edited by Alice Pung. Black Inc, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781863951913. 288 pp.
Non-fiction anthology.
This is a very rich collection of stories about the experiences of Asians in Australia – from ABCs who have been here for generations, but who still look Asian, to very recent migrants. The themes of belonging and not belonging are at the core of this collection.
This is a rich resource for all students.

In Ecstasy
by Kate McCaffrey. Fremantle Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 9781921361166. 264 pp.
Young adult novel.
Following the success of her book on cyberbullying, Destroying Avalon, McCaffrey has tackled another teenage hazard, in this case that of drugs. Sophie lacks confidence and feels inadequate beside her outgoing and popular friend, Mia; the first time that she takes ecstasy she is amazed at the change in her personality and her sudden ability to attract a desirable older boy.
This will appeal to