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The Cherry Picker's Daughter - A childhood memoir

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The Cherry Picker's Daughter - A childhood memoir

Kerry Reed-Gilbert

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The strength of family ties in Aboriginal communities is clearly evident when three-month-old Kerry and her brother lost both parents. Her father, Kevin Gilbert – later to become a famous activist, writer, painter and actor – killed their mother and was jailed for many years. Her father’s sister, whom she always called Mummy, raised Kerry and her brother along with her own children and others within the extended family. The book is a tribute to this truly remarkable woman: their tower of strength, love and selflessness, who worked tirelessly to support all the children, who during fruit-picking season, made sure they attended school wherever it took them, who managed to keep them from being taken/‘stolen’ by the ‘Welfare’. For so many Aboriginal people surviving during the 50s, 60s and 70s, fruit-picking meant the difference between going hungry or having a roof over your head.

Aunty Kerry grew up in humpies, tents and run-down train carriages, working from a very young age to help her family to earn ‘an honest living’. Their life was one of hard but determined work, and family unity gave them the strength and dignity to continue. Their greatest strength in surviving the Protectors, the White Australia Policy and the everyday racism that they faced, was Mummy and their identity as Aboriginal people.

’A wonderful yarn by an Aboriginal Elder about a bygone way of life.’ — Melissa Lukashenko, Goorie author

’…an insightful and key look into the struggles, racism and classism an Indigenous family experiences…A strong memoir provides insight into a life, experience or a way of life, and Reed-Gilbert’s The Cherry Picker’s Daughter has done certainly that.’ - ArtsHub

’Australia has waited too long to read this book of courage and truth. It heralds a timely change in our thinking on Aboriginal activism.’ — Jeanine Leane, Wiradjuri writer and academic

’A remarkable memoir of courage and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds, from Wiradjuri woman, Kerry Reed-Gilbert. An important book for all Australians.’ — Joy Rhoades, author

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