Author: Jessica White
Set in rural New South Wales Entitlement is a story of family, of country and of heartbreak; it’s a story whose past impacts very heavily on its present. This means there is lots of reminiscences scattered throughout the narrative, and in this case there is no warning before we slip into the realm of memory which I found to be quite distracting at times. There was nothing to let you know you were heading to the past, thankfully though there was a separator at the end of the reminiscence to let us know we were coming back to the present.
Cate and Eliot are siblings born a year apart, which is something we do discover quite early on. Regardless of that I couldn’t help but think of them as twins for most of the novel. They look very similar, they are basically inseparable and when they play music together it is definitely a case of the whole adding up to way more than the sum of its parts. As children nothing can get between them but as they develop into teens with all of the changes that brings a chasm begins to form. All of which is information we discover slowly as the novel progresses.
I enjoyed this read, at times I found it heart-breaking and at others I was angered and disgusted at what I was reading. The premise was gripping but at times I found the narrative dragged a little. I didn’t want to be bogged down in the mundane details I wanted to get to the heart of the story and find out the answers to the lingering questions.
Cate and Eliot grew up on a farm in rural NSW, an area that belonged to the Aboriginals until the government sold the land to the white squatters which saw the Aborigines displaced.
The farm is the centre of this story, all strands lead back to the farm. The farm Cate has refused to return to since the disappearance of her much loved brother. She lives in Sydney, where she went to Uni, became a doctor and went into practice. The farm holds too many memories and she can’t bear to return without her brother. Through all of the years she has never given up hope of finding home and spends all of her spare time searching missing persons sites, placing ads and doing everything she can think of to track him down.
Then comes the call summoning her home because her parents want to sell the farm and they need everyone who is part of the partnership to agree – and Cate refuses. She is still so caught up in the hope of her brothers return that she can’t bear to sell and deprive him of a home to return to.
Entitlement follows the drama, the grief and the friction of Cate’s return home, and the reminiscences that fill in all the gaps that may offer answers to the current situation.
Another integral strand of this story is Mellor, the Aboriginal working on the farm and part of the tribe who lay claim to the land from a time long before the settlers. Mellor’s strand of the story tells of racism, abuse and the fight for the rights of the Aboriginal people. Here we learn of Native Title Rights, the removal of children to the missions, the heartbreak of Aboriginal mothers at the loss of their children and the shocking treatment they faced at the hands of the white people of the region. Racism and treatment they faced not just generations ago but also into the present day. I found this very sad to read and disappointed in those of my colour that they would treat anyone so deplorably.
The conclusion of the story almost seemed to come together a little too neatly, all the ends tied together but it still left me with questions because I didn’t feel it came together believably.
Overall it was an enjoyable read, if at times I found it dragged a little. There seemed to be quite a few editing oversights which in this book did jump out at me, sometimes I can skim across without noticing but this wasn’t one of those times. That’s something I did find a little irritating but it didn’t affect my reading pleasure significantly. There are a few cons but overall the good points of this book definitely won and I am glad to have read it.