By: Alice Pung
Genre: FA - Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Published by: Black Inc
Published: 1 Jun 2021
ISBN: 9781760641832


From one of Australia's most celebrated authors comes a mother-daughter drama exploring the faultlines between love and control.

One hundred days. It's no time at all, she tells me. But she's not the one waiting.

In a heady whirlwind of independence, lust and defiance, sixteen-year-old Karuna falls pregnant. Not on purpose, but not entirely by accident, either. Incensed, Karuna's mother, already over-protective, confines her to their fourteenth-storey housing-commission flat, to keep her safe from the outside world - and make sure she can't get into any more trouble.

Stuck inside for endless hours, Karuna battles her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life, as a new life forms and grows within her. As the due date draws ever closer, the question of who will get to raise the baby - who it will call Mum - festers between them.

One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale exploring the fault lines between love and control. At times tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless brimming with humour, warmth and character. It is a magnificent new work from one of Australia's most celebrated writers.

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Given the lockdowns experienced over the last year, I certainly empathised with the claustrophic feelings experienced by sixteen-year-old Karuna when she is locked inside for one hundred days.

After Karuna falls pregnant her mother is enraged. Good girls do not get pregnant, and she certainly cannot look after a child. So her Mum decides to lock her in their tiny commission flat for one hundred days, until after the baby is born. But with this lockdown imposed on Karuna, a struggle over who will raise the child once it is born brims between them. Will Karuna be relegated to ‘older sister’ status?

This is an incredible story of strength and resilience, exploring the dynamics of power and control in a parent-child relationship. Karuna struggles under the intense scrutiny of an obsessive, controlling and overbearing mother, as well as the fact that her father recently left.

Written as a story to her unborn, and then newborn child, this is an unflinching and complex story of generational dysfunction, but it is also a story full of character, love, tenderness and heart.

With themes of teen pregnancy, control, isolation, and love, this is mostly importantly a young girl’s coming of age story. A wonderful Australian novel that is best suited to readers aged 15+.

Reviewed by Rob