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Told through the eyes of a young boy, ‘By the Scruff of the Neck’ begins its tale in post-Second World War Holland of the 1940s and goes on to give a candid and often humorous account of a Catholic childhood and the dynamics of family life. In contrast, the impact of the German occupation of Holland provides an insight into the privations of the time, as well as the subsequent decision by the family to emigrate to Australia in 1952. The comparisons between life in Holland and in Australia are at times harsh, yet the continuing thread of courage and optimism lightens the otherwise difficult migrant experience.
This is a book many will easily relate to, whether they are past or current migrants, or whether they are members of long-standing Australian families. Human foibles are common to most, and here, there is no holding back in dealing with the issues of growing up…and of coming to terms with being a ‘New Australian’.