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Used: Very Good | Details
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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. May contain very minimal writing/highlighting or notations.
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Message Stick Paperback – December 26, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the best novels in ten years."
-Hackney Literary Awards Committee

"Initiates Cunningham into the ranks of respected authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Sarah Gruen."
-Dena Harris, internationally published author of Who Moved My Mouse?
  
"A brilliant flow of friendship, ancient wisdom, sorcery and retribution. This is not an uptown homicide but one inked with shamanic intrigue and a spiritual battle of souls."
-Dale Stacy, Diamond in the Rough
 
"Characters so real and memorable you won't put this book down. One of the best stories ever to lie in our laps."
-Pamela King Cable, Televenge

"Demonstrates a mastery of psychological introspection and an uncanny feel for the spirit of place. The novel hit us all very hard."
-James Jones Literary Society

"From the beginningit's obvious we are in the hands of an exceptional writer and master storyteller. Insight into the characters, skill with language, and careful plotting are brought together in a package that explores the soul of her characters as well as the soul of a nation and its people. Cunningham has crafted a truly special book."
-Edmund R. Schubert, award-winning author Dreaming Creek

"If you enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith's series you'll enjoy this biracial Aborigine's exploration of the land, his inner feelings and who he truly is in this engaging story of Australia today."
-Patricia Canterbury, Tanner Sullivan Mysteries

From the Author

I spent six months camping alone in the Australian outback. Two weeks before I boarded the plane, I had a vision of my own corpse lying beneath a lone tree in the red desert.
I went anyway. I had to. The life I had been leading was killing me. I was working a corporate job I hated, had been bucking for a promotion for over a year to no avail, and wasn't pursuing my true place in the world. I knew that even if I died in the outback, I would have done something meaningful in those last short months.
After purchasing a twenty-year-old Ford sedan, I set off. For months I traveled territory so rough I had to drive down the middle of the two lane road. I chewed through five tires, carried spare gasoline, and stored a two-week supply of food and water in the trunk. Every night I pulled off into some lonely patch of desert, cooked over an open fire, and slept under the stars.
One day I was traveling on a raised roadbed. There are no speed limits on the outback roads and was doing about 75. One of the tires blew. The car was thrown off the raised road and literally bounced into the desert. I could not steer or brake. As I waited for the car to slow itself down, a single tree blocked my path. It was that same tree I'd seen in my vision.
I sank into the seat. I can still feel the metal springs in the seat cushion as the car bounced again. I sank down, knowing the seatbelt would not protect me.
Then I straightened up. I decided that this was not what I wanted. I looked at the roadway. It was further away than the tree. Yet the moment I thought, That's where I want to be, the car was back on the road.
The entire experience in the outback changed me forever. Shortly after returning to the US, I left that deadly corporate job and began my career as an author. I learned that I should always make choices based on what's best for myself. I know that I have the power to survive anything...anything. 
After returning to the U.S., I cashed in my 401K and started writing. This novel is one of the first things to come from that time and those lessons.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Sun Dogs Creations (December 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982239904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982239902
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,081,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
When Ian McCabe goes missing in outback Australia, his friend Gabriel (Gabe) Branch leaves coastal Queensland to search for him. Ian is a ‘roo shooter, a peripatetic lifestyle which makes it difficult to pin down when he went missing. This will be a difficult journey for Gabe. Identifiably Aboriginal, removed from his parents as a child, the world of his ancestors is alien to him.

‘The only thing that seems to hold any promise is an artifact Ian mailed the week he disappeared.’

In Alice Springs, Gabe discovers that the artifact is a message stick. He’s told that it is something to do with death, but he needs to find someone from the right tribe to read it. Gabe’s journey through the outback draws the attention of Dana Pukatja, a Pitjantjatjara medicine man who does not want Gabe to find the truth.

This is an interesting and at times convoluted tale. Gabe needs to become more aware of his own Aboriginal past and culture. He needs this awareness in order to understand both the world in which he finds himself, and what happened to Ian. The journey is difficult, both physically and emotionally. The supernatural also has a large role. Gabe encounters people who help him, and those who discriminate against him. Where does Gabe belong? And what about Dana Pukatja: can Gabe find the truth despite his best efforts?

‘White men, with their metal and machines and their mania for conquest, never understood Aborigines or their land.’

The vastness of the Australian outback is vividly depicted in this novel: a remote place which can be very unforgiving of those who enter it. The outback is both backdrop to the story and a character within it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Message Stick is a supernatural adventure set in the outback. Gabe, a multiracial man in search of his childhood friend runs afoul an aboriginal Shaman/Criminal. Dana not only uses his black magic to get his way and even kill but has no problem poaching and raiding gravesites for money. When Gabe's investigation leads him toward Dana's grisley trail, the shaman has no qualms about getting Gabe out of his way. This story confronts a lot of the racial tension in Australia, an issue the main character actually deals with in himself. While Dana despises anyone with pale skin and those that have turned away from their heritage, Gabe comes to find out about a side of himself that never thought to explore. This story is great with its thrilling mystery and supernatural additives. A great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Laine Cunningham's 'Message Stick' is a message in a bottle from a continent's past. Australia's 'Lost Generation' are the children taken from their Aboriginal families by the government and raised by white families, and 'Message Stick' tells the story of one child's journey to reclaim his past. Bowed by middle age, but not broken, protagonist Gabriel Branch travels deep into the interior of the Red Desert, encountering Dana, a nihilistic rogue Shaman with a broken moral compass, while searching for his lost childhood friend. This is a story about innocence lost, aboriginal trauma, and the history of an entire nation. If you're a fan of the Australian continent, its people, and their varied stories, you're sure to enjoy this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I save my five stars for books that books that make me think so hard I can't sleep at night. I'm a sucker for all stories set in Australia any way, and this book also clearly delineates the inner life of a broad cast of characters with beautiful writing and devastating rage and sorrow. I had not known the particular bit of history, and cannot come up with an adequate response to that outrage. A beautiful book about an ugly situation.
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Format: Paperback
Message Stick, now known as The Family Made of Dust, gives us an up close and personal view of the Australian outback while following a thrilling investigation to its conclusion. The Family Made of Dust also showcases fascinating aspects of indigenous Australian culture trying to continue to exist amidst the struggles and hardships of the modern world. I found Gabe’s introspective and physical journey mirrored in a particularly masterful way throughout the narrative. I also loved learning about the concept of song lines as well, a truly unique aspect of native Australian folklore. The Family Made of Dust is a must read for anyone who like a good story mixed in with real life facts about the Australian Outback.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Message Stick is an audacious and timely novel. It begins with a white Australian tracking an Aboriginal elder and his rough-neck white sidekick who are stealing and trading in Aboriginal antiquities. It’s an intriguing premise, which quickly drew me in, and once in, the author Laine Cunningham did not let go! Ian, it turns out, is not the hero of this story; his friend Gabe is. Gabe is a middle aged member of the Stolen Generation. On the quest to find out what has happened to his friend, he is drawn into the red desert of the Australian interior, and closer and closer to the Aboriginal life that was denied him when he was stolen as a child and assimilated into white society by the racist government policy of the time. Here, his entanglement with the Dreamtime, a shaman with his own agenda (none of which fits with Eurocentric laws or ways), and his commitment to find the truth, whatever it takes, leads to a novel rich in mystery, culture, and a questioning of identity. It was terrific to read a book with complex Aborigine characters, rather than the Westernized fantasy version we often see, and I really admire how Cunningham understands the genetic attachment to landscape and environment, and how she weaves the past and present together – fitting for a book exploring Aboriginal ideas, where the continuum is eternal. It’s a terrific book – a great mix of harrowing adventure, myth, culture, and real mystery, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is willing to venture somewhere that might deeply unsettle them in a way that has nothing to do with gore or fake thrills.
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