The war may be over, but the fight to belong is just beginning.
Left homeless, starving, and almost killed by the Second World War, the Saforo family are refugees fleeing Italy for a better life. The shores of Australia are calling to them and they head off, packing dreams of jobs, a home and … soccer.
But from the moment they get off the boat, adapting to the Australian way of life is harder than it seems. Their family doesn’t speak right, eat right or even look right. As they struggle to build a simple life against the backdrop of 1950s racism, they start to wonder if they will be outsiders forever.
A true family affair, Wanderers No More will make you laugh, remind you of your family, and warm your heart.
Michelle Saftich is an Australian author who enjoys writing historical fiction and science fiction. She writes about migration, people's ability to adapt to changing environments and in her latest novel, The Hatch, she explores the pros and cons of having a sixth sense.
Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology. For more than 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. She spent 10 years living in Sydney and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English. She is married with two sons, and has a dog and a cat who both like sitting with her while she's writing.
A poignant story inspired by a true story that stays with you. An Italian family migrates to Australia in 1950 and struggles to settle. It was interesting to read about their early experiences, being sent to Greta Camp in NSW and then to Cairns. About a third of the way in, the story picks up the pace. From here, it was hard to put down and I was really feeling for the characters. There are a lot of themes; cultural conflicts, racism, young love and rejection, and some tough choices, especially when a heroic character calls in a favour - high tension in parts! Of course, it has a deeper impact to learn that some of the more moving events actually did take place.
Wanderers No More is the sequel to Port Of No Return, but stands successfully as a historical novel in its own right. I hadn't read the first book and didn't find myself feeling as though I was missing information although, on the strength of Wanderers No More, I have now added Port Of No Return to my TBR list. The story begins with a poignant description of the Italian Saforo family coming into sight of the Australian coast, an entirely new land which they must make into their home. The phrase about this boat full of refugees 'holding their children's hands and not much else' really hit home to me the experience of these people. I was reminded that many thousands of displaced people are facing similar journeys now, some seventy years later, but often without the support of their families or their new nation.
My great-uncle emigrated to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom in the 1950s so I already knew about that wave of Australian immigration, but had no idea of the many our Europeans who undertook the same sea voyage a decade earlier. Saftich brings their lives into focus through the Saforos integration. I did sometimes feel that there were strange jumps in the narrative, events and decisions that weren't sufficiently explained, but I hadn't realised until the very end of the book that it is based on a true story. Conversations and the like have obviously been imagined, but most of the people we meet really did exist. I love the extra dimension this adds - and real life never does run as smoothly as a novel!
I have long awaited the sequel to Port of No Return, which I loved. And once again, author Michelle Saftich has written a story that I devoured as it brought back my own experiences growing up as an Italian Canadian with immigrant parents.
Wanderers No More begins where Port of No Return ended, with the Saforo family and their friends leaving the displacement camp in Italy after WWII and on a ship headed to Australia. Although, it's a sequel, this book can be read as a stand-alone and still be immensely enjoyed.
The story is told through the eyes of a young Martino, only six when they land in Australia in 1950, until he is a grown man with his own family in the late 1970s. I loved this kid. I thought it a brilliant idea from the author to make him the main character and use his point of view to bring alive both the wonder of starting one's life over in a strange country to the hardships of being different, discriminated against, not knowing the language and the customs of this new land.
The Saforo family and their friends went from one immigrant camp to another, with few belongings, doing menial hard labor so that they could finally afford a modest house after being displaced for years. We get to see the hardships they endure, especially the children, who are bullied at school. And the triumphs as they excel in soccer and the pride of doing so. It is a story of loss, survival, hope and joy.
I became so invested in this novel and its characters. The pages flew by effortlessly as I lived with them their immigrant experience, making me appreciate all the more what my parents and grandparents did for me. Never boring, filled with emotions and vibrant scenes that pulled at my heartstrings, Wanderers No More is a touching portrayal of a family's will to leave their war experiences behind along with their beloved country and start anew and make their dreams come true.
Based on true events from the author's own family, this is one of the best books I've read this year. I hope Michelle Saftich continues to write novels with heart that celebrate family life and the bond of friendship. If you like immigrant stories, this one is not to be missed.
Stories of migrant refugees form an important part of the fabric of Australian, and indeed global society, as many many millions of us have been or are refugees, refugees of war, oppression, famine or environmental catastrophe. Port of No Return describes how a small group of families from northern Italy become refugees in World War II, and in Wanderers No More, Saftich portrays the everyday life for these families from the moment they set foot in Australia. The novels fall into the genre of family history memoir, as they are based on true events and real people.
Wanderers No More is an endearing coming of age story sure to put a smile on every reader's face. Told mostly through the eyes of young Martino Saforo, who arrives with his family in Newcastle after spending four years in various refugee camps in Europe, the novel engages from the first page. The early part of the novel describes the harsh life for European migrants sent to government-run labour camps where they are bonded for two years, the men working on infrastructure projects, including the Snowy River hydro-electricity scheme, mining and roadbuilding. Or they worked on farms slashing sugar cane and the lucky ones in factories. Accommodation was Nissan hut style.
Wanderers No More centres on the trials and tribulations of Martino, his brothers and their friends. The women in the story, the sisters and the mothers, have lesser roles which are not developed but provide texture nevertheless. The cameo role of Martino's every-present Nonna represents not only the female element, but Italy itself, with all of its traditions. Through Nonna and Martino, Saftich depicts the homesickness, the coping skills, the resilience and the determination to learn Australian ways and language with enormous sensitivity and insight. Simple acts of kindness are juxtaposed with relentless ethnocentric bullying, mostly in the schoolyard. For Martino, Australia seems a harsh and unforgiving land filled with harsh and unforgiving people. Yet hope is ever present, as is Martino's passion for soccer, which consumes much of the narrative as the novel progresses. Tragedy is ever present, a ghost at first haunting between the lines, and when it finally manifests, it strikes hard.
Throughout the novel which spans two decades, Saftich deploys emotional restraint, the narrative voice commensurate with the heart and mind of a young boy finding his way, a boy who grows up lost, confused, alienated and hurting in so many ways. Anyone familiar with This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff will understand the narrative approach. With its easy, engaging style, and themes of migration, alienation and belonging, this novel belongs on the set text lists in Australian schools.
I fell in love with this book, it is more than just a story - it is life, a life that so many of us know. Immigrating is difficult, landing in a country where you don't speak the language, don't understand the culture, the food or the expressions but you do so in hope for a brighter future for your children and their children. Sometimes as second and third generation immigrants, we can forget exactly what our family went through to give us the life we have and I love how this book addresses that at times. My favourite part was when Martino looked at his Father and felt compassion and understanding. The compassion part hit me the most. It can be easy to get frustrated with our Grandparents for saving money, for not wanting to spend it on "wanted" items, to the way they take value in certain things and their strong work ethic. But when we take a moment to step back and see everything they went through for us, you fully understand them.
This book follows the Saforo family as they land in Australia. They don't speak English, they have very little money and they face culture shock. They are forced from camp to camp before they arrive at their final destination. Everything is different for them - from the language to the weather and even to the food. They face hate everywhere they go, at times it is quite shocking what they go through and the way they are spoken to. In all of this, they struggle to build a better life for their family.
This is a truly amazing story of hope, compassion and faith. Leaving your home in search of a better future for your children is never easy. It is so important for us as their descendants to understand and appreciate their struggles. This is a definite must read book.
Mrs. Saftich crafts a beautiful story of a loving family, who endures hardship only to find a home. To quote Martino "They came with a suitcase and their dreams and finally brought a house. And in the land of kangaroos, amongst the hard work, the learning of a language and the sharing of cultures, they established a home. That's what it was all about."
I did not know that this was the sequel to Port of No Return. This book did not read like a sequel. This is a good thing for readers like me who have not read the first book as this book can be read as a stand alone novel.
Instantly, I fell in love with the Saforo family. All of the family members were great in their own way. Although, I had a soft spot for Martino and Nonna. I loved when Martino would be feel down and Nonna would sneak him a piece of chocolate. Then there was the point in the story when Martino overcame a horrific accident.
The story takes the Saforo family form the 1950's to 1979. It was nice to see the progression from the family starting out and learning about their new homeland to becoming established and loved by many. A truly heartfelt story that will touch you long after you have finished the last page.
I loved Wanderers No More a true story written by Michelle Saftich tells so well of the good, bad and ugly the Italian refugee family endured while immigrating. I felt I joined the journey from when little Martino Saforo climbed onto his fathers shoulders to watch as their boat came into port in Australia, to the very last page where Martino is grown up. It follows the Saforos family from Greta migrant camp to a north Queensland camp then down to Stafford, Queensland to another camp, then finally their own home. The family went through so much together there is sadness, bullying, suspense, crime, romance and happiness as they work hard to learn a new language, earn a living and fit in to a culture different to their own. A wonderful story one I'm sure I will reread many times. It is a book I would highly recommend reading.