Girl of the Southern Sea

A novel by Michelle Kadarusman.

Michelle Kadarusman

From the time she was a little girl, Nia has dreamed up adventures about the Javanese mythical princess, Dewi Kadita. Now 14, Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs too much. Her father sells banana fritters at the train station, but too much of his earnings go toward his drinking habit. Too often Nia is left alone to take over the food cart as well as care for her brother and their home in the Jakarta slums.

But Nia is determined to find a way to earn her school fees. After she survives a minibus accident unharmed and the locals say she is blessed with 'good luck magic,' Nia exploits the notion for all its worth by charging double for her fried bananas. Selling superstitions can be dangerous, and when the tide turns it becomes clear that Nia's future is being mapped without her consent.

If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of for her mythical princess, and summon courage she isn't sure she has. (From Pajama Press)

Girl of the Southern Sea is a finalist for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text. The winner will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.

From the book

Three things a girl from the slum is told never to do.

Never go out after dark.

Never walk alone.

Never disobey your father.

Still, I am walking alone after midnight through a tangle of dark alleys. I have to find my bapak and bring him home. I move quickly and carefully through the inky darkness, willing myself into a thin shadow or a wisp of smoke. Lucky I am skinny and small. I wear a hoodie and hunch my shoulders like the boys do.

From Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman ©2019. Published by Pajama Press.