The trauma cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Karen - The trauma cleanerThis is one of the titles in the RRL Book Club collection. The Trauma Cleaner tells the true story of Sandra Pankhurst who has lived an extraordinary life: husband and father, drag queen, sex reassignment patient, sex worker, businesswoman, trophy wife. As a little boy, she was raised in violence and excluded from the family home. Sandra now brings order and care to the living, and the dead: a woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years, a man who bled quietly to death in this loungeroom. Biographer, Sarah Krasnostein, accompanies Sandra on her cleaning assignments, at the same time piecing together her much forgotten life history. A fascinating and utterly moving story of survival.

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Any ordinary day by Leigh Sales

Cynthia Any Ordinary DayOn any ordinary day something traumatic can happen to you – a death or a violent act. How do people and the community make sense of this come out on the other side? This is the question that Leigh decides to investigate through interviews with people who have gone through this experience. This book will make you think about how you react to tragedy and how to relate to those who are going through it.

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Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Amy Therese RacquinA deliciously gothic tale of adultery and murder in a dingy part of Paris, published in 1867. Thérèse Racquin married her sickly cousin but began a passionate affair with Laurent. The pair plotted to murder Thérèse’s husband in order to give full rein to their lust, but the act haunted them in increasingly horrific ways. If you read Nancy Mitford you might think that adultery is an accepted part of French life, but reading Madame Bovary, and especially Thérèse Racquin, will put you off adultery for life!

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Bridge of clay by Markus Zusak

Amy Bridge of ClayBridge of Clay is the story of five brothers, grieving for their mother and finding a way to keep going. It isn’t told in a linear fashion, and there are many elements with a very slow reveal. It’s about the destructive power of loss, and also about love; how brothers love each other, parental love, romantic love. Not as broadly recommendable as The Book Thief, it’s a much slower, sometimes a little vague or confusing, but deeply emotional book.

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Lincoln in the bardo by George Saunders

amy-lincoln-in-the-bardo.jpgI can see why people struggle with Lincoln in the Bardo; there were 166 narrators for the audiobook, and lots of references to historical texts. In the Georgetown cemetery dwell the former people who are not willing to move on, who think they will recover and return to where they were before, until young Willie Lincoln arrives. What follows is, indeed, bizarre, but it is also funny, profound, and moving with characters so endearing, their journeys so touching. I loved it.

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Dead secret by Catherine Deveney

cynthia-dead-secret.jpgThe story is told through Rebecca during the week after her Da’s death. We find out that the family had lots of secrets, one of them about the death of her mother years earlier. I loved the way the story is told through Rebecca’s diary like telling, it’s more than a simple mystery to be solved. I was involved with the story from the beginning and had to keep reading to find out the ending, and though it was not the ending I expected with everything neatly tied up, I enjoyed the story very much.

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