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Grace Beside Me

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A warmly rendered story of life in a small town that interweaves the mundane with the profound and the spiritual. Told through the eyes of teenager, Fuzzy Mac, awkward episodes of teen rivalry and romance sit alongside the mystery of Nan’s visions and a ghostly encounter. Against a backdrop of quirky characters, including the holocaust survivor who went to school with Eins ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published by Magabala Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Thirteen year old Ocean Skye McCardell, affectionately known as Fuzzy Mac, lives within the small outback town of Laurel Dale. Since her mother passed, Fuzzy has lived with her grandparents, known to the town as Nan and Pop, her father employed in the mining industry and unable to care for his only child. Thirteen years of age will become a monumental year for Fuzzy as she begins to see spirits, a long held tradition of Seer passed down through the McCardell women. Navigating adolescence as Fuzz ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Meet Fuzzy McCardell, otherwise affectionately known as ‘Fuzzy Mac’ – named for her mop of fuzzy hair, and because her real name, Ocean Skye, is just a little too hippy-dippy. Fuzzy Mac lives in Laurel Dale or ‘Laurie' as the locals call it, with her Nan and Pop.

Fuzzy has lived with her grandparents ever since her mother died of a drug overdose when Fuzzy was still a baby. Fuzzy could have lived with her dad, Sonny Boy, but he travels a lot and it’s gotten to be that Fuzzy couldn’t imagine life
Finally read this before I started watching the tv adaptation.

I loved Fuzzy's voice, and the warmth of her family. I also liked the gentle way that she and her friend explored their feelings but ultimately, decided to be friends. There are many realistic notes like this in the story. In particular, reflections on the Stolen Generation and many issues in Australia.

Content/trigger warnings - not spoilers: (view spoiler)
Christine Bongers
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie-ya
A lovely, slice-of-indigenous-life, set in 2008, the year that Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generation. The teen protagonist, Fuzzy Mac, is a great kid, funny and resilient, but it's her grandparents, the no-nonsense psychic Nan Tilly and her husband Pops, who really steal the show. Full of love and dedicated to grandparents everywhere, this beautiful episodic narrative has strengths that will make you forgive its flaws. Four stars for furthering the cause of reconciliation in this countr ...more
Fresh and strong. Nice balance of humour, devotion and thoughtfulness.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have had this on my tBR for ages, but finally picked it up so I could read it before watching the NITV series. It wasn't quite what I expected, but I really enjoyed it! There are a few stories that develop/run through the book, but mostly it is made up of snippets of stories and observations rather than a single strong narrative. The characters were fun - I especially loved Fuzzy's Nan.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian-2017
More a series of short stories, there are profound moments mixed with the more mundane.
"Grace Beside Me" by Sue McPherson takes place in 2008 and follows young teenager Fuzzy Mac (Ocean Skye McCardell) and her life in the country town of Laurel Dale. Raised by her grandparents she explores her relationships with them, with her mostly absent father, with her dead mother, with her friends, neighbours, and community. Fuzzy's grandparents are a mix of Islander and Koorie and the absolute cornerstone of Fuzzy's life. They instill a pride in family and heritage in Fuzzy which shines thr ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This episodic narrative about a girl living with her Nan and Pop is very enjoyable! The characters are brought to life throughout the gently unfolding series of vignettes. I particularly enjoyed the attention to small mannerisms. The dialogues are well written and capture the characters. The narrator's voice is clear, fresh, and casual. It's also distinctly Australian, making good use of both Indigenous-Australian and Australian slang.

The book does discuss some really important issues such as th
This young adult novel pays particular homage to the role of grandparents. Each chapter is an episode in the life of 'Fuzzy Mac' a precocious and endearing teenager detailing snspshots of indigenous life in a small country town. Fuzzy lives with her nan and pop since her mother died from a drug overdose and they provide a stable and loving environment. The narrative voice is simple but ultimately full of wisdom and humour and the author tackles some big issues such as Sorry day, domestic violenc ...more
Fuzzy's voice is delightful and jumps right off the pag.. Early on I could predict what was going to happen towards the end, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. This is book is not about the destination, but the journey of the characters. A lovely, touching read.
Meg Vann
This voice in this book is amazing! I was totally involved in every layer of the unfolding story, told so simply, but layered with such touching complexity.
Underground Writers
This review was first published on the Underground Writers website:

Grace Beside Me is set in the small town of Laurie, and told through the eyes of the young Fuzzy Mac. The narrative borders an episodic plot given each chapter that reveals a different character, their quirks, and life story; however, Fuzzy places herself within each chapter by either hearing or telling the other characters’ story (even labelling herself as the “guardian of stories”) there
Grace Beside Me is a technically perfect slice-of-life story told from the perspective of Indigenous teen protagonist Fuzzy, a resilient and loveable narrator that describes her life living with her psychic Nan Tilly and her Pop in a rural Australian town, as well as the stories passed onto her by family and neighbours, and the everyday interactions she has both at school and home. The writing style is consistent and crisp, with good balance of humour and thoughtfulness. This book discusses some ...more
Grace Beside Me tells the story of Fuzzy Mac through seemingly loosely connected stories of people in her town, her school friends, neighbours and family. It's a beautiful, gentle story but doesn't shy away from big issues.
Chent Higson
Wasn’t such a fan of the style, but a really sweet year-in-the-life kind of story.
Talia Simpson
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good book, didn't get started very fast, but was an entertaining and honest collection of a young part aboriginal woman growing up in a country town.
Naomi Stephens
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jacki Ferro
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gentle, observational, authentic.
Abby Hansen
I liked this book because it had so many good quotes and passages that are relateable for all readers. However, I gave stars away because I felt it had dragged a bit and there wasn't a strong story line. It was basically a collection of mini stories from those around the main character Fuzzy, which was different and quite witty, but not my preferred style.

I just finished an essay discussing the responsibilities of authors when portraying violent events and I wish i had read this first...“Storie
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fuzzy is so lucky she is being raised by her Nan and Pop, whose common sense and simple wisdom give her a loving and stable childhood. With both a Koori and Islander ackground, living in a country community where people care for each other, tolerance and good will is the norm. This is a simple story, seen through Fuzzy's eyes, both casual and far seeing. The family and community support give her the strength to cope with trauma and to move on. Beautifully told, with humour and prgmatism.
It would
Scott Fisher
Great little insight into some Australian history told in an upbeat manner. The grandparents are classic stoics. Not much link between the chapters so it can be read at your leisure. There is an inexplicable and completely unnecessary climax that wrecks an otherwise happy story.
A good book for year 8s or 9s. A nice insight into an indigenous family and some of their beliefs. The chapters where episodes in Fuzzy Mac's life.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A very Aboriginal style of narrative, this novel winds through anecdotes that lead through big events.
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Nov 18, 2012
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Beth Ruth
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Aug 09, 2012
Beppie Keane
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Mar 29, 2018
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“When you are faced with something challenging and you don’t know how to deal with it, you can get real low and sad and not sure what to do next. Well, that’s when you ‘sit a while’. You just find a spot out in the bush, in a paddock or at the beach. Turn off your iPod because you need to connect to the wind, the air, the wildlife and the old spirits around you. Sit on the ground and hold some dirt, sand or a rock in your hands, and work towards getting your breathing normal, then slow it down a little. It might take five or ten minutes or it might take an hour, it all depends how bad your situation is. When you calm your spirit and allow it to connect again to Country and if you are still and quiet enough you may be able to feel a subtle shift in your emotions – like a wave of strong wind – then calm. For me, when the shift comes, my confidence grows stronger. I might feel a little lighter around my shoulders and chest and a couple of times I’ve felt warmth on the back of my head. Eventually I look at the situation with my heart more open and I don’t feel so shitty. Now, I’m not saying this happens all the time,” 3 likes
“We don’t need to worry about what everyone else thinks or likes. I dare you to sing your own song, do your own thing. We don’t have to dislike someone just because they look, sound or come across different. I dare you to be tolerant and fair. We don’t have to give up when things are buggered. I dare you to fight for what you want and what you believe. You have the strength. I dare you to love yourself … because no matter what you think, you are deadly. And don’t you forget it. Grace beside you always.” 2 likes
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