Chosen by Suzy
A Samoan family migrates to Wellington in the 1960s, leaving the sons unsure to which culture or country they belong.
✔ “Sons for the Return Home is a love story set amongst a time and setting of racism. A post-colonial work, it tells the story of a young Samoan who lives in New Zealand and falls in love with a white female university student. The man is expected to become a doctor and one day return to his home but his new love affects his parents’ plans for him.
“Wendt uses several techniques to make the experiences of the characters the experiences of many Samoan New Zealanders and examines racial prejudices from all angles, especially how it intersects with other factors like education, culture, and religion. Polynesian myths and history sits poignantly alongside contemporary life in New Zealand, providing a real grounding to this story. Importantly, this was one of the first novels ever published by a Pacific Islander – in 1973!
✔ “This book seemed to encapsulate a lot of what NZ & PI societies were experiencing as they slowly merged together. My knowledge of this particular period in NZ’s history was fairly small and I relied, rightly or wrongly, on this book to help me understand what it was like for both ‘sides’. It’s also a love story. I’m not being particularly articulate am I? Anyway I can highly recommend this lovely novel.” – Suzy
✔ “The basic premise of this story is one which many people can identify with, and that’s confusion over identity. This was such a real story with true-to-life characters, it’s impossible to not feel connected to it. I loved it.” – Rachel
Published in 1973