Post Script: Tell The Truth Shame The Devil – Melina Marchetta

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil

Tell the Truth Shame the Devil

Melina Marchetta

Viking

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780670079100

 

Description:

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

 

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

 

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.

 

 

My View:

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

Deftly created empathetic characters; a strong female cast, women supporting women, family – in all shapes and sizes is a major element in this mystery. Complex – so many contemporary issues are addressed in this novel yet it is not verbose or pretentious or patronising. Heart felt scenarios – I dare you not to have a tear in your eye as you encounter the last few pages of the book – not tears of sadness but of relief, thankfulness, gratitude…tears for the potential you can visualise.

 

Don’t mistake my commendations as a sign this is a “chick lit” style book – it isn’t! This is an incredibly well written contemporary mystery/thriller with such well-developed characters you feel like you know them! Redemption, forgiveness, hope…its all here. I can’t praise this read highly enough. Add this to your book buying list now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Songs Of A War Boy – Deng Thiak Adut with Ben Mckelvey

Such self awareness and an inspirational life story!

songs-of-a-war-boy

Songs Of A War Boy

Deng Thiak Adut with

 Ben Mckelvey

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733636523

 

Description:

The true story of Deng Adut – Sudanese child soldier, refugee, man of hope.

 

Deng Adut’s family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever. At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school, Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle. He lost the right to be a child. He lost the right to learn.

 

The things Deng saw over those years will stay with him forever. He suffered from cholera, malaria and numerous other debilitating illnesses but still he had to fight. A child soldier is expected to kill or be killed and Deng almost died a number of times. He survived being shot in the back. The desperation and loneliness was overwhelming. He thought he was all alone.

 

But Deng was rescued from war by his brother John. Hidden in the back of a truck, he was smuggled out of Sudan and into Kenya. Here he lived in refugee camps until he was befriended by an Australian couple. With their help and the support of the UN, Deng Adut came to Australia as a refugee.

 

Despite physical injuries and mental trauma he grabbed the chance to make a new life. He worked in a local service station and learnt English watching The Wiggles. He taught himself to read and started studying at TAFE.  In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Law at Western Sydney University. He became the first person in his family to graduate from university.

 

This is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised, helping refugees in Western Sydney. It is an important reminder of the power of compassion and the benefit to us all when we open our doors and our hearts to fleeing war, persecution and trauma.

 

 

My View:

An incredible poignant and inspirational story – how this boy soldier survived and then went on to do great things (**more on this later) is nothing short of amazing and inspiring.

 

This narrative begins by stating the importance of Songs to the Dinka people; “They’re our avatars, and our biographies. They precede us, introduce us and live on after we die. They are also how our deeds escape our villages, and they pass on our code of morality, culture and law.

 

When I was a boy I dreamed of having my own songs, but now I am a man, I have no songs. It’s likely I never will, in the traditional sense. For the Dinka, these songs are only for men. In the eyes of my culture, I am still a boy.

 

When I should have been going through the rituals of manhood, I was caught in a vicious war. By the time I was returned to my people I was very much a westerner.”  (Prologue – Deng Adut)

 

And so begins the poignant and remarkable story of a childhood interrupted by adults’ politics and greed. Somehow this child soldier survived. Read this story and you will be amazed how anyone, let alone a child could endure such trauma – and endure Deng Adut has – Deng Adut’s adult life is testimony to how one man can make a difference (his brother John Mac in the first instance)  and many other’s later in his life’s journey.  This is Deng Adut’s story but it is many peoples story – listen and feel.

 

This personal narrative has much to offer; hope, inspiration, an honest cultural exchange…proof that education changes lives.

What I find remarkable about this man can be summed up in his own words; “I know I am whole, though. Yes, I have had a difficult life. I’m proud pf some things I have done, and ashamed of others, but I own all of it, and I’ve reconciled with all of it. That’s why I am whole.”

(Deng Adut -Prologue)

 

Wise and humble, inspiring and honest, this life, this book asks just one thing of you – open your heart and see the world with compassion.

An outstanding read! An inspiration to all.

 

 

**DENG ADUT – 2017 NSW AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR

 

At an awards ceremony last night (Monday 7th November 2016) Deng Adut, Sudanese child soldier, refugee, man of hope, was announced as the 2017 NSW Australian of the Year. Deng’s incredible story is told in his book with Ben Mckelvey, Songs of a War Boy, which was released last week and is already captivating readers across Australia.

 

Deng’s is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised, helping refugees in Western Sydney, where he now has his own law practice with legal partner Joe Correy, the AC Law Group. His story is an important reminder of the power of compassion and the benefit to us all when we open our doors and our hearts to those fleeing war, persecution and trauma. Media Release Hachette Australia.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Lily And The Octopus – Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus

Lily And The Octopus

Steven Rowley

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471146640

 

Description:

Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.

 

When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride.

 

The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details. We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.

 

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog. Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

 

Remember the last book you told someone they had to read? Lily and the Octopus is the next one.

 

 

 

My View:

I laughed and laughed…then I cried and not just a little tear but torrents of sadness.

 

But don’t get me wrong this is largely an incredibly funny and intelligent read – the observations of life with dogs, searching for a soul mate, and Lily’s enthusiastic response to everything are sharp, hilarious, and often poignant; Lily and Ted do satire and sarcasm really well.

 

It is the banter, the dialogue between Lily and her human companion that is so engaging and cute; but there is a depth and wisdom in the conversations here. Scratch just below the surface (you don’t have to dig too far) and the cuteness is quickly revealed as a mask that tries to hide Ted’s loneliness, depression, his battle to come to terms with his best friends devastating diagnosis and the journey through grief to acceptance.

 

Does this sound like too much sharing and caring?  It actually isn’t – Lily is a bright foil to Ted’s darkness and despair (and a great device that enables the reader to understand Ted’s perspective on life).  The book is full of brilliant observations and it is a credit to the author that the reader cares so much for Lily and Ted.

 

The novel ends on a decidedly positive note, a great emotional read.  (Even the husband enjoyed it! High praise.)

Post Script: Second Chance Town – Karly Lane

Second Chance Town

Second Chance Town

Karly Lane

Allen &Unwin

Arena

ISBN: 9781760291815

 

Description:

The town of Bundah is dying, with many of its young people fleeing for jobs in the city. A desperate plan to revive Bundah’s fortunes—with generous incentives to attract new businesses—results in a flood of people coming to the town to set up shop.

 

As Bundah begins to come to life with the new arrivals a spate of teenage drug overdoses starts to divide the locals. Many are convinced the narcotics trade has been brought to town by one of the newcomers. It doesn’t help that the mysterious new owner of one of the local pubs has a dark past.

 

Lucy Parker is a single mother doing her best to support her teenage daughter, Belle, through her last year of high school. It’s long been Belle’s dream to go to university, so when she starts to turn wayward, hanging out with the wrong kids and experimenting with alcohol and possibly drugs, her mother is deeply troubled.

 

The very last thing Lucy needs is for a man like Hugh Thompson to mess with her heart and disrupt her life. However it seems fate has other ideas.

 

Suspenseful and packed with romance, Second Chance Town is sure to grow the fan base Karly Lane has established with her bestselling novels Poppy’s Dilemma and Gemma’s Bluff.

 

 

My View:

Australian women writers are awesome! This is another excellent example of a contemporary rural Australian novel/romantic suspense – emphasis on the suspense.  It will entertain, engage, thrill you and ultimately make you smile.  Along the way Ms Lane weaves in some very contemporary issues regarding drugs – effecting all parts of society, and the demise of small Australian rural towns and the efforts some communities make to breathe life back into the towns.

 

Had a trying day? Feeling weary, need to re charge your batteries?  Then this is the perfect read for you!

 

 

 

Post Script: Lost Boy and Other Stories- Estelle Tang Ed.

Cover Lost Boy and Other Short Stories

Lost Boy and Other Stories

Edited by Estelle Tang

Margaret River Press

ISBN: 9780987561589

 

 

Description:

This anthology edited by Estelle Tang is a collection of stories submitted to the annual Margaret River Short Story Competition. The competition attracts both emerging and established short story writers, some of who have won local, national and international awards or have been published in The Best Australian Stories, and in journals such as Overland, Southerly, Island and Griffith Review.

We live in the world. But how that world manifests for each of us is different—utterly dependent on circumstances. The people we are born to know and the places we are born to see fix us in their sights, and that’s it. That’s where our stories come from. The stories here are all charged with a human affinity that reaches through the page.

Of these worlds, we might note how geography shapes them, and so heed the callous colonialism of mid twentieth-century Sri Lanka, as seen in Michelle Wright’s ‘To Call Things by Their Right Name’, or note the different kinds of mystery Australian visitors to Laos might find, as Beverley Lello evokes in ‘Scenes from a Disappearance’. Other stories are circumscribed by the strictures and saving graces of family, which can create such specific, affecting universes. Take the child narrator of Rosemary Allen’s ‘What Has to Be Done’, whose observations unwittingly create rents in the fabric of her familial life. And while the bizarre behaviour of a lost man in Susan McCreery’s ‘The Uninvited’ alienates and frightens us, his understanding of parenthood humanises him once more.

We’re guided to still smaller spheres elsewhere in the collection: think of the atmosphere that produces its own pull between two people in conversation, as in Jeannie Haughton’s ‘Weight-Bearing Exercise’, or a girl communing with such an elemental force as the weather, which we witness in Cassie Hamer’s ‘Glory Season’.

 

 

My View:

Such a diverse and interesting collection of short stories that are destined to make you think; some will prick at your conscience, some will make you nod your head in agreement and some will make you smile.

 

The first story, which is the winner of this year’s Margaret River Short Story Prize, Lost Boy by Melanie Napthine is intense and will leave you contemplating the society we live in where children/the childlike, are at still at great risk…This is a story that stayed with me long after I turned the page. Eva Lomski’s The Trapper evoked so many feelings; the trauma and consequences of domestic/family violence has not diminished with time and with the education of the greater population, this story leaves me enraged and saddened. Greater change is needed. More support is needed for the survivors.

 

Michelle Wright’s To Call Things By Their Name transported me to a time and place that is firmly implanted in my memory, a time when we worked overseas– in Sri Lanka. And though we lived in Colombo in the mid 1990’s, a time of turmoil and domestic terrorism, the landscape – physical, economical and hierarchical had not changed a great deal from that in this narrative –perhaps the cities were bigger, the traffic more congested, the towns more populated but traditions and values largely unchanged. Again a different time but such a familiar story.

 

Carol McDowall, the winner of the Southwest Prize injected lightness and humour into this collection with her short story, Bringing Home the Ashes (which, by the way is not about cricket). Hope and a feeling of solidarity came from others in this collection.

 

This collection of short stores will touch you and certainly make you think and that I think is the strength of the short story – the ability to evoke feelings, memories and responses and perhaps more questions?

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Bird Box – K J Steele

Asylum = sanctuary, safety, refuge- not in this case.

The Bird Box

The Bird Box

K.J. Steele

The Story Plant

Story Plant, The

 

Description:

Society said they were insane, and in 1954, that was enough to put someone away in an asylum and separate them from the world. Even here, though, it was possible for souls to flourish.

 

Jakie was one such soul. He was all but lost until he met the girl. She is locked away in a cellar room, but he can feel her presence by imagining he is a small bird visiting her through a hole he has made in a stone wall. He spends hours whistling a cardinal’s song to her and she learns to whistle it back to him. She doesn’t even know that Jakie exists, only the bird, but their communication is changing her. And the overwhelming, protective love that Jakie feels for the girl will compel him to find more of himself than he ever knew there was – and through this, he will alter their worlds profoundly.

 

A remarkable exploration of the spirit, a sharp indictment of our blindness to what makes us human, and an unforgettable portrait of the power of the will, The Bird Box will move you in ways you never anticipated.

 

 

My View:

This is powerfully written book that confronts and shocks the reader when it spotlights the cruel and tortuous experiments and treatment of those deemed society as “different “ or whose behaviours were difficult to manage or embarrassing, those who were easily classified as insane and treated sub humanly. This novel gives the inmates a voice, a space to be heard.

 

Women were easily diagnosed as “insane” as they were relatively powerless in society at the time – women who were deemed difficult, embarrassing, free spirited, or who suffered the real pains of grief or menstruation or hormone imbalances or other illnesses or who had an unacceptable (to the male centric society) sexual appetite or who merely “got in the way” or did not do as they were told were often committed or duped into going into an asylum. In fact anyone could be easily condemned to time in the asylum, money and power bought influence and doctors were all powerful.

 

The first half of this book shocked and horrified me…the conditions were horrendous even in this particular institution which considered itself “enlightened.” Though a work of fiction this asylum was typical of conditions of the time- my studies at university substantiate this. The setting and the treatment of the disempowered was disgusting, the individuals considered sub human and often subject to malicious and sadistic treatment, dignity is denied, choice is banned, behaviours which have made me reflect on those seeking asylum today. Society has not changed a great deal; we incarcerate refugees /asylum seekers in detention centres in shameful conditions, isolating individuals from society, separating families, treating those seeking refuge as the enemy – thankfully lobotomy is not on the menu but in general terms, conditions for those needing asylum are difficult but I digress.

 

The second half of the book showed realistic optimism –and showcased the potential of the human spirit. Even in such depressing conditions hope prevails, small kindnesses make such a difference.

 

This is a very powerful, moving and at times confronting read. It will encourage you to scrutinise the world that surrounds you.

 

 

Post Script: I Was Here – Gayle Forman

This is a book that should be on the reading lists of every high school and stocked by every public library. It should be read by every book club.

I Was Here

I Was Here

Gayle Foreman

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471124396

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of If I Stay – this summer’s YA blockbuster film.

 

This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend’s shocking suicide.

 

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

 

A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familiar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.

 

 

 

My View:

I am a recent convert to the YA genre and it is because of novels like this that I have been convinced to extend my reading habits to embrace this style of powerful narrative. And powerful this is; through embraceable characters on a journey of healing after tragedy we are forced to think about a subject that is largely taboo or hidden in contemporary society – teenage suicide. I Was Here peels away and discards the layers of shame and myth surrounding teenage depression and suicide and opens a door for meaningful discussion – a problem shared is …an opportunity to create or at least move toward positive change. Dealing with depression isn’t easy but there are avenues to explore to assist all those concerned, you just have to take that first step – a simple discussion with someone who can help or who can direct you to help. If this book does no more than open a dialogue about these issues then it has succeeded; that this novel is engaging, well written, intelligent and insightful without being morbid, maudlin or depressing is a credit to the author’s talent. Read it. Just read it.