'Wishes for Starlight' by Linda J Bettenay Reviewed by Robyn Molloy Editor, Examiner Newspapers; Freelancer, webjournalist.com.au The appallingness of the Aborigines Act 1905 is at the heart of Roleystone author Linda Bettenay’s second novel 'Wishes For Starlight'. The Act saw a chief protector appointed as legal guardian to all Aborigines in WA and it spelled the end of civil rights for Aborigines with discrimination, segregation and the loss of the right to move around the state freely. Bettenay tells the fictionised story of Starlight, a mysterious deaf mute Aboriginal boy rescued from abhorrent living conditions by three children, who vow to make it their life’s journey to look after his welfare. His greatest ally is Mary, a strong willed white girl, battered by her philandering father, but determined not to let each and every hurdle life throws at her keep her down. Mary and Starlight’s lives entwine as they endure life without parents, war, depression, death, discrimination and separation from each other. With her acceptance of Starlight, her attempt to run a business alone when estranged by war and her friendships with men who are not her husband, Mary’s life defies what is expected of women of the day. She shows that injustices towards women ran parallel with those of Aborigines. An array of lovable and evil characters join Starlight and Mary to bring the hills of Canning Mills, Karragullen and Roleystone in the 1900s alive with prejudices, sexism, racism and rich discussions about what is right and wrong in their world. Through it all Mary and Starlight give breath to loyalty, strength of character, overcoming adversity and challenging the conventions of the day. Bettenay is bold in her storytelling, she does not shy away from what life must have been like for Aborigines at that time and bravely includes fictionalised accounts of people and places with which she is most familiar, having grown up in the hills where she still lives today. Take delight in reading a WA author writing about the part of WA she knows and loves. It will entertain you, affront you and compel you to talk about what life was like 100 years ago in suburbs we all know. Readers of Bettenay’s first book 'Secrets Mothers Keep' will enjoy the reappearance of Bluey, Macca and the now mellowed newspaperman Eustace. Bettenay’s fans can be rest assured 'Wishes For Starlight' has as many shocks and even better storytelling than her first novel.