Mini quiches success

I just pulled my hands free from the diluted egg wash and chopped spinach that I was attempting to wash the dishes in while waiting for my very first mini quiches to come out of the oven. Yes at the grand age of old-enough I have finally baked quiche. I have also broken the rule of using-a-new-recipe-for-a-dinner-party. I found this recipe in one of my recipes-for-migraines books as I'm on a crazy but wow-it's-working diet.

It's not that I don't or can't cook. I have baked and baked since I was a wee child. Somehow I missed the quiche thing. It probably hasn't helped that Mr9 is allergic to eggs so that put a stop to the whole egg cooking thang in my kitchen for a whole heap of time. That being said I really have no excuse for all of those years that went by before he came along.
I'm much more relaxed about the eggs now even though he is allergic to them still as he can tolerate them cooked in cakes.

Anyway he won't be eating them. These quiches aren't for him or anyone in my family. It's my book club Christmas party tonight and I'm incredibly thankful they turned out ok. Now onto the salsa. Thank goodness I've made that before.

Life lessons while we clean

As I scrub the bath furiously, haul the 15 kg vacuum that looks like the robot from Lost in Space around the house and lug 3 loads of water logged sheets on a Saturday whilst barking at encouraging the kids to do their own room, and helping them negotiate about who's turn it is to use the mop and vacuum I do wonder if it is worth it. Yes it is.

There are other options of course, there are always other options, but I like have always liked to do things differently, swim against the tide if you like. I could do this during the week - squeeze it in. I could also get a cleaner. I have a few issues with both of these.  The first one is that even though I am at home during the week, that doesn't actually mean that I am doing nothing, doing it cements the idea in everyone's head that 'it-is-mum's-job-so-I-don't-need-to-do-anything'.  The second issue is that I am not going pay hard earned dollars for someone else to come in and do half-hearted job cleaning my house - I have tried it a couple of times and been dissatisfied each time with the effort and love.  The main issue however is about ensuring that that my boys (yes, I do have a house full of boys) grow in men (I am growing men, not boys) who know how to be great house-men and eventually (hopefully) house-husbands.  I want them to be able to do all of the jobs around the house, not just the 'manly' jobs.  They are in training whilst I have them.  This parenting thing is serious business I think - even right down the cleaning!  Don't get me started on the job roster...that is a whole extra post.

Doing it together as a team to get it done. At the end of it we all feel that we have accomplished something together and the boys have learnt some really important life skills. Then we sit down and can relax and have lunch together (and they look forward to playing on the computer!).

Meanwhile by lunch time Saturday my muscles have had a good workout and I reckon I can probably skip the gym.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

As a kid I read loads of books about survivors of the second world war.  It was just something that fascinated about how on earth anyone actually got out of there alive.  My son came home from a friends place after having a few nights sleepover during the holidays and dropped this book on bed, saying, "Mum, I think you'll like this."

It is a full graphic novel of Art's parent story (and his) of survival.  It incredibly intense and personal (Art bares his soul).  I wept.  This story has stayed with me for the two weeks since I have read it and I am sure that it will continue to stay with me.  I am now going to get our own copy for the rest of the family to read and to read again.  In is a very powerfully written story, and I think even more so as it is done through the graphic novel novel style.  I now have a new sense of respect for the graphic novel.  (I also wish I could draw a whole bunch better...).

Wow... Thank you Art for sharing this with me and the world.  It is such a deep, rich, personal and horribly moving story that I could not put down. Another reminder of why war is a tragedy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bleak Melbourne

I live in a city who plays with my emotions.  Today she is wicked and grey, not a glimpse of sunshine, she threatens wind and rain. Tomorrow she may gleam and sparkle, asking me to play and laugh again.  Today I wrap my scarf and turn against her, my fingers turn yellow. Melbourne you tease me with the windows of sunshine, last night you gave me the most spectacular sunset after you blew us away with ghastly winds.  There were shades of cerulean, lemon, red,golden yellow, violet, and deep red that stopped me in my tracks.  You can put on a sunset as good as Broome,yet these bleak days make wonder I should cough and sniff here or leave.  Let me climb the ladder up to the clouds and rip a hole through the dirty cotton wool to let that sunshine through again.

All That I Am By Ann Funder

For a book that did not grab me in the beginning, had me re-reading what I had read the night before to try to understand what I had missed, thinking that I was was suffering from memory loss, only to find that this was actually part of Anna's clever story telling from an old lady's memory which comes in little pieces at the beginning.  I was surprised that I loved this book so much by the end.

Anna Funder has written the story of a revolutionists, Ruth Becker (based on the story told to Anna from Ruth Blatt nee Koplowitz) and Dora Fabian and the writer, Ernst Toller, during their time when Hitler was coming into power. I was fascinated to learn about this period of time. As child I read a great deal of stories of survivors from the second world war so it was great to open my eyes to the time before.
Ann respectfully writes this story of Ruth's so that her and Dora's honour is upheld.

It is a story of strong women doing everything they can for the good of their people and their country. Theirs is loss, pain and triumph.  It is a story of women doing all that they can do against all odds whilst their world is tumbling down around them.  I was overawed by the strength of these women during this terrible time.

Anna opens our eyes through Ruth's story into a moment of history that would otherwise be lost, unknown.  A woman who now lives in Sydney, who escaped the horrors of war and fought hard for the good of many, living a quiet life in Sydney.

Thank you Anna for a wonderful story.

Exercising the Writing Muscle

I love my friend Jackie!  I really, really do!  I know Jackie through my writing group at Kensington Neighbourhood House and all of the people there are great, but Jackie has been a great writing exercise buddy.

I met Jackie ages ago through the child care group at the local Neighbourhood House then met again at the Creative Writing group with Emilie at the Kensington Neighbourhood House a number of years ago.  Emilie has worked with us on a monthly basis giving us exercises to do.  Over the years we have gone from occasional writers to begin to see ourselves as writers.  As the years have gone by, the sessions are becoming a little more serious.

A few months ago Jackie and I decided that we needed a little more.  We needed to see each other more than once a month, so we started our own weekly sessions.   As time has gone by these sessions have taken on their own form.  We write, critically (and supportively) feedback and encourage each other in what we are doing in the coming week.  We encourage each other toward our writing goals.   We talk about daily writing goals, editing and the writing process.

The most amazing thing has been happening.  The writing muscle has begun to work and tone up!  We have more finely tuned goals.  We help pull each other out of the slumps.   It really helps to have a writing buddy, someone who also believes in your writing, someone who will read it and give you some good honest feedback.

Book Review - Bad Hair Days by Pamela Bone

Well, this is one of those books that I was recommended when I was talking with a friend about books women have written when they are dying.

Pamela had myeloma and gives the reader a great understanding of what someone may go through when they (if they) are unfortunate enough to get this illness.  She doesn't spare the reader any detail.  Pamela's writing is very factual, even when talking about her own fear as she was going through the worst of the chemotherapy.

Pamela Bone is the columnist who became well known for declaring her support in the Iraq war. She spends a great deal of her book bouncing back and forth between illness and the current affairs - drawn to her passion, into the columnist style of writing.  She writes to correct or compel the reader into understanding the issues about the war, famine in Africa, and then as she progresses in her illness, into the issues surrounding euthanasia. She is a very knowledgeable woman who, it seems, has a desire to get the most important issues out in this book.  She knows that this will be the last chance that she has as the cancer is terminal.

This is not a pithy read of woman dying of cancer, but a woman who has been through a great deal, seen famine in Africa, war in Iraq, and slow death in public hospitals.  She takes the chance that she can to make her voice heard when she no longer has her position as leader in The Age.

Worth a read.

A simple thank you

All it took was thanks.

We wrote a letter to say thanks for the cling wrap that we used when travelled around Australia. It was a really well travelled box. I really wish I had a picture to show you but we sent it to them to show them how well travelled it was. It had lasted us 18 months all in all. The cling wrap outlasted the box (something to do with the way we travelled).

When we travelled in our truck and trailer we didn't have a great deal of 'stuff' so we were thankful for the things that worked well. We were thankful for moments and meetings with people.

It is worth remembering to thank people.

Sometimes you surprise people and make their day. Very occasionally you may get something back like this - just don't expect it!

Thank you x Meg

Autumn Laing by Alex Miller

Fantastic. Alex Miller is now one of my new favourite authors. This is the first of Alex's books I have read and I am truly grateful to him for his brilliant story telling. Thank you Alex for throwing me into the depth of Autumn Laing and Pat Donlan's lives. This is a story loosely based on Sydney Nolan and Sunday Reed and those involved in the art scene at the time when Sydney was about to come onto the scene in Australia. It is a clever and wonderful piece of writing.  It is a story of love and betrayal, grief and acceptance, art and poetry, and memory.

I really love the way this story is told by an old woman remembering as she writes. We learn so much of this woman, Autumn Laing, as Alex gives us her in her adult years that it is hard not to feel the pain and guilt she carried with her near to her death bed.

This is a slow novel, to be consumed the way that food should be consumed. Each word, phrase, and paragraph needs to be read, felt and understood. It is clear that Alex is a thoughtful writer, he understands, lives his characters deeply. He gave us the beautiful unconditional love of Arthur, Autumn's husband and a wonderful understanding of each of the group of artists who would collect at the Old Farm. A truly outstanding novel.

the Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman

Times have been a little rough in our household lately, so reading this book right now was brilliant.  It was just what I as a wife and a mum need to do.  We needed a little more love in the house.  A little more understanding.  Transition times are tough.  

This book of Gary Chapman's has been an eye opener of a book that helped me to understand the different love languages that we are all speaking in our family (there are Words of Affirmation, Gift giving and receiving, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Touch).  

Words of Affirmation

For people who have this as their primary love language, the odd compliment here & there means the world to them and an insult shatters them. 

Quality Time

This primary love language is full on undivided attention which enables a person to feel special. Distractions are hurtful.

Receiving Gifts

The person who has the primary love of receiving gifts feels loved when there is thought and effort in a gift as it shows the care and love.  When a gift is missed, then the person who has this as their primary love feels unloved.

Acts of Service

Think of the little things; washing the dishes, picking up the clothes, sweeping the floors.  These can all be acts of love to the person whose primary love language is Acts of Service!  They may be the very things that make the load of difference in a relationship.

Physical Touch

The love language of physical touch is touchy, but not all about sex.  It is about the hugs, pats, hand holding etc and for the person who needs this to feel loved, this is incredibly important.

Gary explains that we all have a primary love language and this is what we "speak" mostly, yet we probably are able to speak more than one language.  It is important for us in families to learn how to speak more than our own to operate well and listen to each other.

It has helped me understand how each person's "love tank" may be running on empty and may need a refill, and how best to refill it!  It has also enable me to open up a discussion about these love languages with the members of my family.  Wonderful!  Gary uses his vast knowledge of 30 + years as a marriage counsellor and no nonsense language to get the messages across. 

The next member of my family has begun reading it (hubby) and when he finishes, we will do the very last chapter together which Gary has set out like a workshop for couples.  By the end of reading the book, I was really revved up and ready to workshop it with him.   I also think it would be good to read his book, The Five Love Languages of Children (even though this book does already touch on it).  

x Meg

Writing Workshops and all that bizzo

I've been very fortunate this year to be a part of a writing group. Well  I have actually been a part of my local writing group at the Kensington Neighbourhood House for a number of years, but this year our tutor Emilie Collyer has turned up the heat in our group by putting on Master classes.  These Master classes have been run by published authors, Alec Patric, a short story writer, and Amra Pajalic, a novelist, both sharing their thoughts and ideas on writing, the journey that they are on, getting published, and they were kind enough to share the depth of emotion that this writing road has taken them on.

It was astoundingly interesting to learn from them about this roller-coaster journey that they have both been on emotionally and how they have coped with it.  They also talked about how long it takes to get that book, the story that began so long ago, to actually appear in the bookshop, if at all.  It was interesting to learn that both of them have been through an incredibly dark, self-doubting period, I am begin to understand that this prevalence of self-doubt is throughout the writing world (maybe not amongst the Peter Carey's of the world...).

Alec coined the phrase of 8 years of being in a basement and Amra talked about a difficult period of writing where she felt like she lost her writing voice due to the physical need to switch from hand writing to writing on the computer.  It somehow made "real" writers, published writers feel so much more real, more like me, the novice, amateur writer, where there are periods where words don't come easily, self doubt creeps in, and the page looms.  I learnt and understood that it is a process that needs to be pursued, and that one has to exercise the writing muscle every day to get better and to remind yourself that you are a writer.  Emilie has been telling us this for about 4 years, but is reassuring to hear it from others.

Am I doing it yet?  No not yet, but I am getting better, and that is part of the process.

It is reassuring to see authors with published books having the same struggles; authors with the names on books in bookshops, who have worked for maybe 10 years to get a book out from the start of an idea, who might have edited it for 2 years with a book that has a cover picture that is not really their choice.

I think that it is incredibly valuable to be involved in a writing group;  to learn, and to go writing workshops, to read other writers work and learn from what we are reading, to be flexible about our writing, about what is and is not working and to be open to feedback.  We also need to be thoughtful about who we give our work to for feedback so that we are not crushed by the feedback.

Having said all that, I am really looking forward to my next couple of workshops at the Williamstown Literary Festival.  I am doing the Secret & Lies and Editing workshops.  I really love the feeling of being around other people who write and talking about writing and also not being asked "What genre do you write?"  I just write!

x Meg

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn, an historical novel set in the 1950's from Ireland to Brooklyn and back.  It was very interesting in an historical sense, and Colm certainly has done his homework with understanding the times, however, it is not a novel that really stayed with me once I put it down.

The story is based around Ellis, who lives with her mother and sister Rose in a small Irish rural town, Enniscorth. Rose is older than Ellis and employed, living a full and fanciful life.  Ellis only dreams of living in her sister's footsteps.  Rose arranges for Ellis to go over to Brooklyn by passage to Brooklyn for a better chance of a bookkeeping career than in Ireland.  Ellis settles into life in Brooklyn, albeit incredibly homesick, whilst not daring to let anyone at home know that she is homesick.  Colm keeps the pace of the story going so that I was entranced in Ellis' life, wanting to know what was happening with her life as she discovered more and more of this curious American life, trying to fit into it as an Irish young woman.  

It is a good page turner and great historical piece, a nice love story, and a piece that gives context to Ireland, Brooklyn and the immigrants to America at the time.  

Who's running my life

You'd think that by this stage of my life (I am in the 39-55 age bracket now) that I would have full control of my time frames, and be able to allocate what I want to do and when...and then there were kids.  The chaos and erratic behaviour that comes with kids is not something that I could have ever been prepared for.  I have been in the thick of it now for a good 12 and half years, and I am still amazed how a week can disappear with not a single scheduled thing being done, and a billion other things being done.

This is what I opted in for when I ticked the virtual box of "Stay At Home Mum", or "Pick Up The Pieces and Stay In Tune With Everything That Comes My Way", yet I am still amazed that I am surrounded by so many unfinished projects, things that I begin, but have to put down, lose my train of thought as someone bursts in the door with an urgent need, the phone from school with an urgent request "Can you pop up please?", a request from someone to pick something up or fix something - before they come home from school - please...

It is a choice I made, and I would have it no other way, I love being this connected to my family, but I can tell you now, it is chaotic.  If you are about to embark on it, just understand what you are about to head into.  This is not a place of full control.  This is a place of negotiation, just in time management, thinking on your feet, prioritisation, and putting out spot fires, and sometimes all at once.  All of this is expected to be done with a raging smile on your face as well.

In reality, it comes and it goes, as I am heading into the next phase - the teenage years - I am beginning to learn to let go.  This is a major thing.  After running the ship for so long and being able to pull the chaps into line with a really loud whistle, "come on guys",  or "OIY" I am having to look towards my hubby who seems to have been at work for the last 12.5 years (except for when we spent a year together travelling) for advice.  Oddly enough, he seems to know how to manage the next bit.  It seems to be that all the books, psychologists etc seem to know what they were talking about, and he didn't read a single word of it.  He just puts his hand up to me and says, "Wait. Just leave him."  It works, even though it doesn't feel right to me.  He uses less words than I do. Somehow he gets to be hero in this next phase, which might be good, because I think they are getting much too strong and big for me.  I might get to spend a little more time, hopefully, on the things I want to do. I also still get to take them to all of their health appointments and sporting activities.  That seems to still be my role,  Mum's job, but I am learning not to take on the emotional crap that they chuck at me, and enjoying seeing the great individuals that they have turned into.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This is a book club book that once again has taken me to reading a book that I may not have read otherwise.  I grew up listening to The Goons every Saturday, so I went into this novel by Jennifer Egan thinking of The Goons.  The Goons this book is not.  It begins with kleptomania Sasha talking with her therapist about her long term habit whilst she justifies her behaviour. Each chapter was connected, yet disconnected, with different narrators, and time frames.  There is one chapter that is written in the form of a power point, from the Sasha's daughter, Alison, and whilst it is interesting to a point (contemporary writing), and also putting across a point about who she was and how she was communicating, as a reader, it was slow and clunky to read, yet getting the Egan was pressing the point of change, (from the 70's to now) and technology and Alison's brother's obsession with pauses in songs as we have a pause in our thoughts as we turn each page for the power point slide.  There is also a letter from a Jules Jones while he is in prison for attempted rape, to his victim, Kitty Jackson, movie star, which is the transcript of his interview with her, which is somehow funny.

The main gist of the novel is set in San Francisco, punk 1970's music scene, with a few of the characters reappearing more than others.  There is Sasha, the kleptomaniac receptionist who works for Bennie and Alex who she had sex with when she was young and comes back many years later to reinvent Scott's carreer.  Bennie has made it big as a music producer after failing as a musician when in a band with Scott and after being mentored by Lou the coke-sniffing, teenage girl chasing music producer.  Scott has his career reinvented by Bennie after many years of no contact when he comes in with a fish pulled out of the East River, the same river that Sasha once lost her long lost best friend.  There are many threads intertwined in here, but it is a complex story with the discontinuity of the chapters. 

Interesting book.  I think I was lost somehow with the disconnection.  It made more sense by the end, however, I found myself spending a bunch of time throughout catching up on what I had read & who was who and how they were connected.  I suspect that this may be reread to truly understand it.

Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson

I was taken in straight away with the protagonist, Christine, and the confusing, dangerous life that she lived. Every day that she lived, every memory that she acquired was wiped clean as she slept through the night.

She had to rely completely on this stranger in her bed, Ben, her husband to introduce himself to her everyday as she tried to grasp what the reality was.

This is a well written first novel, packed full of suspense from start to finish.  I even found myself gasp out loud at one point!  I am so thrilled that this year's book club list has included such a varied group of book, introducing me to books that I may not have picked up, including this one.  I was so drawn into the story, the life like a goldfish, forever waking up and having to recreate her history, that I devoured the book within 2 days.  Not much happened in my house during this time.  I became Christine.  I think that it really takes a great writer to get the reader in that well, and this is Watson's first novel.  Well done, I say, well done!

I became fearful for Christine as I learnt more of her life, as she lived like a child, trying desperately to uncover how she came to be living like this now, and with no memory that made sense.  What she was being told didn't seem to add up with how she was feeling, or were they memories?  Watson plays with the idea of what memory is.

It is a fun, suspense filled novel that may render you useless until you turn the final page like I did.  The book, and Christine and her life, still have not left me!  Wonderful.  I love to read a book that can truly take me away!

Great read.

xx Meg

Coonardoo By Katharine Susannah Prichard

It felt like a real privilege to read Katharine Susannah Prichard's book, Coonardoo which was written way back in 1929.  She wrote this book when she went up to the Kimberley's in the North West area of Australia and stayed on a station, Turee.  She was enamoured by what she observed as a writer and was inspired to write about this.  What is most interesting, I found, was that she writes in the indigenous language.  I am not sure if it is actually reflective of the actual dialect of the mob who would have lived there at the time, however, the book is peppered through with the words and sentences, dialogue in the native tongue.  I really enjoyed reading the language and there is a glossary at the back to help along if you need.  It is a celebration of the traditional peoples.  I found it very hard to put this book down, and read it in only a few days.

Coonardoo is a love story between a station owner, Hugh, or Youi as his people know and call him, and Coonardoo.  Hugh, being a white fella, and a station owner of Wytaliba, forbids himself to fully give himself over to her.  This love that is too strong to bear causes pain for him and for the people on his land.  He jeopardises himself, his people, his land and his children (from a white wife who he does marry).

Katharine poses the fantastic concept of love between Aborigines and White people at a time when it was never considered a possibility.  She wrote it into a story, put it on paper, took it from the bush, the outback, into the cities. What happened out in the outback, the land that people rarely went to, was fairly unknown in the cities.

Katharine sexualised the beauty of the woman, Coonardoo, the Aboriginal woman who could be lusted after and loved forever.   There was public outrage when this book was originally published, mainly because she had exposed the exploitation of black women by white men and "..that she wrote of the love, albeit unacknowledged and twisted in on itself between a white man and an Aboriginal woman.." (Introduction by Drusilla Modjeska, 1990).

I found it to be a great love story, full of love and agony.  The restrictions of their separate cultures that both Hugh and Coonardoo imposed on themselves were so wide, that they tore each other apart.

Katharine in her writing shows deep respect for the indigenous people of the time, the role that they played on the stations, the traditions they had and what they had to put up with.  In her writing she shows a tenderness and this is then shown through her character of Youi.  She shows how she saw poor behaviour from white people in the land through other characters in the novel, in their treatment of the 'gins', as second-class citizens.

Katharine paints a beautiful story also of the land, the time, which spans over three generations, and the many varied season.  Her very vivid descriptions bring the reader right into the sparse arid land which is then turn into a lush landscape the minute the drought breaks.

A great read.

xx Meg

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I was absolutely blown away by this book.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not just a biography, but it is a history of science, a history of a family, a history of racism and most importantly it the history of the HeLa cells and the impact of these on the family from whom they originated from.  Rebecca Skloot took some 10 years to write this, and it is incredibly well written.  She is very sensitive to all of the issues that are surrounding the history of the HeLa cells, and Henrietta Lacks.  It was so beautifully written that I ended the book so overwhelmed, in tears at what Henrietta's family had gone through, at the compassion Rebecca had shown throughout the time she had spent with them to help them learn the true story.

The story begins in 1951 when a poor black woman from Clover, Henrietta Lacks, went to the John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore for something that she is concerned about (but didn't tell anyone what it was).  She was right to be concerned as it turns out to be cervical cancer.  The practice back then was for the scientists to use whatever cells they could, whatever tissues they could lay their hands on to try to learn more about the human cells, cancer, treatments, illnesses, etc.  So, George Gey and his little team  set about putting her cancer cells into culture and seeing what would happen.  They didn't think that much would happen as most cells to date had died.   These cells kept living and kept reproducing, over and over and over again.

The problems with this whole scientific practice was that they generally focussed taking from the black people, or performing medical testing on black people, and all without asking.  It wasn't considered necessary.  It also wasn't considered necessary to let the family know that tissues had been taken and what they were used for.  The tissue wasn't necessarily thought of as being associated with a person, they were just tissue.

Mary, who worked with George, told Rebecca  later that it wasn't until she saw the red nailpolish on Henrietta's toes that she '..nearly fainted. I thought, "Oh jeez, she's a real person."'

Henrietta, a young mother of 5 children with one daughter in home for the insane, died from a very aggressive form of cervical cancer.  Her family moved on, well, the children were too young to know, and her husband, Day, knowing not what else to do, moved on.

Rebecca, after stumbling on the very important HeLa cells in high school, then goes on to spend years researching to find who is the person behind the cells that became the immortal cells, HeLa.  This person is Henrietta Lacks, a fact which is known in the science word, however, in the Lacks family, their understanding of the immortality of the cells is confusing, how the world got to have the cells, a part of their mother, is beyond them and why people are getting to make money out of their mother's cells when they are dirt poor and uneducated, unable to get their own medical treatment is infuriating.

Rebecca has to work through many hurdles, calm many family members, educate the children of Henrietta, Deborah, Lawrence, Zakariyya (born Joseph) and Sonny (who are old enough to be her mother) (Elsie died), track down the white land-owning relatives from whom the Lacks family takes its name and spend many, many hours trawling through medical files to get to the bottom of it all.  Through it, the family learns who their mother, grandmother, cousin, sister and Aunt are, and relations between all begin to calm down.  The world slowly begins to learn the truth behind the most important cells in medical.

It is a fantastic exploration of the ethics of medical science as it covers such an extensive period of time (from the 1950's right through to the present time).  Rebecca puts the human, the person back into the centre of the picture of science, to ensure that we don't forget that consent, asking is so important.

There are many gruelling finds along the way, many that have been righted.  Science has come a long, long way. Now I know that Henrietta Lacks has been a very big part of it.

I give this book all 5 stars as it truly deserves the lot.

There is now The Henrietta Lack Foundation to help educate & provide health care to those who really need it.

If you want to read about the Lacks Family and they have a beautiful picture of their mother's cells in fluorescent as well as her all dressed up.  The cell picture may be the one that Sonny was given when he first saw the picture of what the cells looked like.

xx Meg

Write on Wednesday: Alex Miller Inspiration: Something of Great Importance

Alex Miller Inspiration:
‘Something of great importance to me happened two nights ago.’

I lay, spent on the cold concrete floor of the laundry.  There was nothing left to me.  It was as though I had been hooked up to machines that had sucked the living daylights out of me.  Nothing to even cry with, nothing to move with.  My mouth was wretchedly dry, parched, but my tongue would not move to help itself.  The files in my brain had become de-fragmented and nobody had set the program to clean it up.  They were no longer linking to each other, nothing made sense any more.

I slowly blinked.  I could feel the crepe paper lids unfolding, the steely gaze that I had fixed on the fur ball under the washing machine slowly closing.  I let the heavy eyelids that didn't even seem to belong to me any more to stay shut. There was nothing more to see other than fur balls and dust particles.

In the darkness I began to see the light.  The clarity of the last two days slowly dawned on me.  It was going to take an eternity to live with.  There was nothing left for me here.  In one small moment, everything in my life had changed forever.

Two words, "He's gone."

I hadn't understood at first, I was in the middle of a phone call, cooking dinner, signing papers.  Everything was busy, important.  Nothing was busy or important now.  Everything was gone.

Justin had looked at me with a sneer, realising that I hadn't understood, ready to lay blame on me, angry, or was he upset, I don't know, "He's topped himself, you idiot!  You!  Too freakin' busy again! Not looking again!  You didn't care anyway!  Always doin' you're own thing."

The ice moved through me rapidly, starting at my heart where he had stabbed me until I was standing stone cold, as ice, nothing, lost everything.

"I'm gone. We, we are nothing. He was what held us, but now...", I can now see that Justin was broken.  Then I just thought he was trying to kill me too.  My tongue was frozen.  The blood had stopped moving in my body.  I had not imagined a life beyond ours.  Our life of screaming at each other and pretending that we hadn't, ignoring each other, but existing together, insulting each other with a compliment in disguise: the charade.  I thought that it was working.  Pass the salt, dear - why the hell did you do have to pass it that way to me!  The man I had known for more than half of my lifetime, the man who was more than half of me, turned and walked away.  I still could not move or speak.  I was still frozen.

Could I have another go?

Couldn't I try again to hug him one more time each day?

Could I try to say that I love him?   I know I do, did, but I didn't say it.

Why couldn't I turn back time?

I don't know how I came to be on the cold laundry floor.  I don't know how long I was there.  Day came and finished.  Darkness fell.  Light came and was sucked away again into the depth of darkness again.  The stillness became my comfort, silence my friend. Now as it was light again, and clarity, reality had dawned, my body slowly began to move.  I needed to move to a new world, a new life, a new beginning.


If, you’ve stumbled by here and have no idea what Write on Wednesday is, WOW is an online writing group open from Monday to Friday. A weekly creativity fix that allows writers to share their words and receive support, encouragement and feedback from other writers. Some writers have ongoing pieces and characters they’ve been working on, others use the weekly prompts to flex and exercise their creative muscle.

Write On Wednesdays

This week's prompt for Write on Wednesday is this sentence from Alex Miller provided by Jennifer at A Sampler. The instructions are: "’s a great opener, but if you want to incorporate into  your piece, that’s fine too.  Set your timer for 5 minutes or write about 500 words. If you’re looking for specific feedback, please let us know. Otherwise – enjoy the writing"

Alex Miller Inspiration
‘Something of great importance to me happened two nights ago.’

Join in if you would like by visiting Jennifer's Blog

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave comments...

xx Meg

21 Jump St : Could you go back to High School?

Who were you at high school?  The cool kid, the shy kid, the nerdy one, the anxious one, the one that flitted between types, the one that didn't care?

We were all someone at high school, and it is such an awkward stage of life where we are all just trying to find our little way in life, our place, where the heck do we fit in with it all - but then, so is everyone else.  Everyone else seems so sure of themselves, when you don't, and they have things that you don't .  Their lunches contain weird and unusual foods, or just plain and simple foods, when you have the weird and unusual.  The disparities of us as individuals all come out at this time and we just want to fit in or we just want to stand out.

I was lucky enough to win tickets to the advance screening of the 21 Jump St movie on Monday and it got me thinking about the whole notion of going back to high school and how our old versions of ourselves would be seen as now.

I was a nerd at high school.  I had hand made or hand me down clothes (or they came from the op shop, Venture or Fosseys - does anyone remember those shops?) and my family recycled everything (literally), made everything, we had to work in and around the house and the only holidays that we went on were camps.  I still carried a lunch box when everyone else was carrying a paper bag or buying lunch orders.  I wore glasses ("Four Eyes").  I had a school bag that wasn't standard issue, it was an ex-army one that I had drawn on and sewn patches on from Aussie Disposals.

In the eighties that was really uncool.

Now it would be seen as cool (well at least in my suburb it would).

The world at some stage between the eighties and now turned upside down and the uncool became ok.  I just peaked too early.

I spent the whole of my high school years sitting on the edge of friendship circles as I didn't really fit to any mould  that had been pre-set in anyone's head.  They liked me (I knew that), but given that I was a bit freaky and weird (I had no TV for instance to add to the other odd things which meant I couldn't converse about whatever the pop culture was - and still can't recall back to the "good-ol'-days"), the girls couldn't work out which group I should belong to, so I drifted between a few.  I luckily had a couple of good friends who stuck by me and my social disabilities, my awkwardness, even seeming to enjoy my seemingly weirdness (one great friend remarked one day that she loved how my house always smelt of food, and that our afternoon tea was great because there were jars of dried fruit and nuts open to eat).

How would I go now?  I don't know.  Times have changed so much.  Now it is more ok for people to be different. There is more expression of individuality.  There is more openness and discussion about difference.  Ok for some people to not have a TV (or not to watch it - but then is it ok not to have a computer?).

People in high school will always feel awkward or socially disabled for some reason or another.  Perhaps that is a true reflection of our community - the haves and the have nots.

xx Meg

Why Weren't We Told by Henry Reynolds

Every since I can remember, I couldn't understand why people saw others as different to themselves.  As far as I knew, we were all the same in the end.

Henry Reynold's book Why Weren't We Told is about the discovery process that he went through (and I subsequently did too) as to how the older generation in Australia had grown up with different baggage that over the generations we have slowly been able to let go of.

Historian from Tasmania, Henry spent time living in England before returning to Australia to live in Townsville in the 60's (and I believe still does). He was confronted by the racism that was right in front of him and was accepted as ok. He took it on as something he needed to learn more about, to understand. In doing so, he became friends with Eddie Mabo (of the Land Title Case), learnt about injustice towards Aboriginal children and had to rethink his idea of Australia's supposed peaceful and heroic history.

Henry explores the history, the true history of Australia. He doesn't glorify either side, the English or Aboriginal side, he just tries to get to the bottom of a lot of the untold, accepted or hidden stories. The outcome is a sad story of many lost lives, of murder, of trusts and betrayals and of genocide. I found it shocking and moving. It is the history lesson that I was never taught and that should be taught to all Australian's.

Reynold's also highlights how much we as a people of Australia are much better at tolerating, respecting and reconciling than we ever were before. I found it an important point to make and to keep these things in mind so as not to feel weary.

After traveling through Australia in 2010 for 9 months, visiting some communities and meeting many more Indigenous people, I had come home feeling perplexed and angry about the way white Australia treated (mistreated) the traditional owners of our land: the language, the infrastructure, the policies and general patronising. I felt very little hope at that stage for the repair, reconciliation between the general white Australia and the Indigenous community that most people never see or hear.

A good friend of mine could see me struggling with this and recommended that I read this book to help my understanding of the history, Indigenous people and people who still call Indigenous people atrocious names - and think it's ok - the racist people of our country.

After reading Henry Reynolds book, Why Weren't We Told, I can now see we (Australia) is actually with hope and that we have to live with that. Things are going to get better and it starts with each of us taking the time.

Worth a read? You bet!!

x Meg

Exercise: My first and last word on it

OK I am the first one to say, exercise does not come easily to me.  There you are, I have said it, it is out there, big and bold.

 I am an Endomorph (or maybe a Mesomorph - I can't decide and it probably doesn't matter) according to Dr Sheldon (ie look at a cake and put on weight because I accidentally ate the whole thing and am to sluggish to be bothered exercising) and my 6 foot 2  husband is an Ecomorph (ie skinny as a bean pole with the metabolism of a rocket)

So, obviously my husband and the offspring that have taken on his traits do not see the need to get out there and exercise (characteristics of an ectomorph are: fast metabolism, naturally thin or wiry, find it hard to gain weight, naturally lower in strength levels, often higher in energy levels and tend to be over-active - Fitness Friday: Knowing Your Body Type).

I also, with my body type have a tendency not jump up and "get out there" (naturally overweight, gain fat easily, find it difficult to lose the fat, larger around the waist, possibly sensitive to the carbohydrates - particularly processed and refined carbs, slow metabolism, body shape is more rounded or pear shaped, often has reasonable strength levels - Fitness Friday: Knowing Your Body Type).  Wow! If only I had known all of that when I was so much younger, I would have understood myself as a teenager!

What do they say? Opposites attract? We are the opposites and neither of us have ever, I repeat, ever done exercise as a regular thing.  I have had a dawning, a moment, a realisation now that I am, ahem, a little over the other side of young that I no longer have a choice.  My body is SCREAMING at me to exercise.  It needs my attention.  I can kid myself no longer that a little bit here and there will be enough.  I do know that when we travelled for 9 months putting a tent up and down every other day and moving boxes in and out of a trailer and onto the roof of the truck, I was the fittest I had EVER been two years ago.  My body thanked me then.  

My greatest difficult with exercise is always myself.  I stop myself.  I think I am too tired to go.  I come up with the excuses and reasons before I have even started.  This year I had made a goal that I would exercise 3 times a week and thought that this would help.  It is now March and for the first 2 months nothing really happened.

I spoke with a friend about it and she told me that I really had to make a regular time to exercise (apparently this is what people do - who knew). So I looked at all of the classes that looked really good and highlighted them.  I would be going out every night.  Already I had set it up to fail.  I didn't get to anything.  On a Monday morning a friend dragged me along to a yoga class.  It was great to stretch out my poor old twisted up muscles.  I booked in for the term, that was a good regular thing.  Two weeks in I didn't feel like it was enough.

On Sunday afternoon, my listless moment of the week, I grabbed my swimmers, goggles and towel and walked out the door with no takers.  Thirty laps later I felt great.  That is what exercise does.  It makes you feel great.  I promised myself there and then that those 3 times a week were a must (not to include the yoga as that wasn't cardio).  So now I have committed Tuesday and Thursday mornings to cardio exercise and accomplished my first week and promised myself not to allow anything to get in the way of it from here.  I have even "booked" it into my diary.

I swam, I rode and I walked really fast.  I did my mini triathlon. Yippee!

I pushed those arthritic joints to their maximum and I didn't die, I didn't even get a migraine (double yipee), I might even live a little longer.

Bonuses were that I had endorphins buzzing around me, I wasn't nearly as tired at night as I thought I would be, I smiled more, I saw more of the world because I was riding and walking in it, I had time to think, and I felt the sun on me. I am sure there are even more than that, but even with those, that is enough for me to keep it up!

The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes

I don't think that I could have read this book on a better day in my life.  I read the entire book in a day (except for the first 20 pages which I read when I crawled into bed and promptly fell asleep) as I needed to finish it for book club last night, and it was a wonderful book to read in one hit.  It is a really long time since I have sat down and read an entire book in one go (I have kids for those who are wondering).  This is not the reason, however, as to why it was a great day to read Julian Barnes' "The Sense of an Ending" on Wednesday.

On Tuesday at my Wednesday writing group (which has suddenly turned into a Tuesday writing group due to my tutor's Masters lectures) we were talking about a character being developed in writing by the choices and decisions they make, and the consequences of these and did various exercises around this.

This book is a brilliant example of this character development.

Julian Barnes shows us over this novel the character of Anthony, the main protagonist, by letting us hear how he wrangles through life with the consequences of the decisions he made in adolescence, and the damage that is left for him to try to understand what happened.  It does take him a lifetime to learn about himself and those who he was entangled with to be ready to hear and to understand.  Tony, or Anthony, grapples with memory, as he remembers his adolescence as it was, or was it?

Me reading with my many tags of his brilliant lines

Julian's book is full of brilliant writing, insights and understanding of human nature.  He is an economical writer who lays threads throughout the novel, leaving the reader thinking, wondering at the end.  Each reader, as we found last night at book club (who all rated it 7/10-9.5/10), forms slightly different ideas from the threads that he lay within the story. A clever and thoughtful writer giving us a well formed story with a wonderful unsuspecting twist at the end to surprise most.

Definitely a book I would recommend. A most enjoyable thought provoking read of memory, aging, identity, relationships, letting go and holding on, and adolescence and young adulthood and the behaviours that surround those years.

x Meg


I want to share with you some of my favourite lines from this book - some of those lovely coloured flags that I stuck on!

"And there was no arguing against 'feelings', because women were experts in them, men coarse beginners.  So 'It doesn't feel right' had far more persuasive force and irrefutability than any appeal to church doctrine or a mother's advice" pg 23

"Some Englishman once said that is long dull meal with pudding served first." pg 54

"Have you noticed how, when you talk to some like a solicitor, after a while you stop sounding like yourself and end up sounding like them." pg 68

"The more you learn, the less you fear.  'Learn' not in the sense of academic study, but in the practical understanding of life." pg 82

"Margaret used to say that women often made the mistake of of keeping their hair in the style they adopted when they were at their most attractive.  They hung on long after it became inappropriate, all because they were afraid of the the big cut." pg 91

"I remember a period in late adolescence when my mind would make itself drunk with images of adventurousness." pg 93

"Compliments of the seasons to you, and may the the acid rain fall on your joint and anointed heads." pg 97

Concerning character development, whether characters develop over time: "Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that something different, more like decoration."  pg 193

and finally...

"May you be ordinary, as the poet once wished the new-born baby." pg 144

Joan Richmond - From Melbourne to Monte Carlo and Beyond

This is not the kind of book I would have necessarily picked up given the choice, however, it was on our book club list so, being an obedient reader, I have read it.  We only have one copy between us as it was deemed quite difficult to get hold of so there was pressure to read to pass on. That all being said, now having read it, I immensely enjoyed it.

It is a truly remarkable life story of a strong and determined woman (I could also call her a tom-boy, remarkable, goer and incredibly driven). The main thrust of the book focuses on her adventurous drive from Melbourne to Monte Carlo in 1933, staying in London and all of the races and rallies she participated in, to her eventual return to Melbourne in 1946.

Joan had come from a privileged family who put her in good stead for her life, opening doors for her, especially in a time where women did not have as many opportunities.  She was one who knew how to make the most of each situation, and it was this that enabled her to spend so much time, devote her time to racing cars in rallies throughout Europe, even when the Nazi's had begun their assault on Germany and surrounding countries.

"..Not being one for not taking advantage of a favourable situation..." pg 240 re: getting pistons made for her Fiat at Specialloid during the war when there were no pistons available when she was working for de Havillands.

This book is an incredible snapshot of a strong and feisty woman's view of life between 1933 and 1946 whilst she was living in London.  She tells the story to David Price of the races, rallies, co-drivers and cars, but reading between the lines, one is able to hear how times were for the people, how times changed so rapidly, how she was affected and how they were affected.

She shows an incredible insight to what was about to happen, and being a woman, not afraid to speak up and ask questions.  On meeting Herr Huhnlein at the Donington Grand Prix in 1938 and seeing their Mercedes on the stand at the The London Motor Show, she questioned him about the rear platform on the car.

"..he told me that it was to mount the machine gun or an anti-aircraft gun..." 

She questioned him further about this.

"...We are not fighting you..."

He laughed it off and she tried to persist, however Lord Howe hushed her, embarrassed at her persisting.  She wondered why England did not see and learn from what they had seen. pg 212

It is a story of the difference of the rights that women have from then to now in that she documents it by telling David what she was able to do and not able to do.  For a woman to compete in a man's sport was remarkable and to do well at it, even more so.  Joan was very proud of her driving abilities and I got the feeling that she thought she had been overlooked either due to being a woman, or due to the car that she had been given to drive (sponsored).

"..I think we were cheated out of the Ladies Cup, because they cut out some events on the flat, where our nimble little excelled..." pg 192.

Joan returned to Melbourne, unhappily with her mother, to live in her eyes an unremarkable life for the last half of her life.  In reality it was anything but unremarkable, it was just not racing cars.

I had thought this was going to be a dry, motoring autobiography (I have never in my life read one of these), but I was drawn into Joan's life.  A woman who would do anything to get what she wanted in a time when the world was in turmoil, when women did not have the same choices that we do now.  I found it a very interesting book, even the car bits, but probably most especially the social observations that she made.

x Meg

Five Sentence Fiction: Enchanted

I am joining in with Lillie McFerrin's Five Sentence Fiction this week and the word for inspiration is 'Enchanted'.  Pop over to Lillie's blog to see the other people who are writing and join in!

Amelia grabbed the tatty calico bag and raced out the door, flinging it behind her, shouting abstract words that were not strung together, something about shops, milk and breadrolls, to the kids as they sat at the long wooden table eating their muesli.  She hadn't washed her face, done her hair or thought about what she was wearing, she had just fallen into the closest clothes to her bedside when her youngest tapped her on the shoulder at 7.30.  Feeling pleased with herself at the bulging bag of pumpkin seeded rye bagels, she walked against the oncoming tide of train users. Amelia allowed herself to look up to the eyes of the fragrant suited young man, swallowed his smile and sucked in his aroma. She walked through the tide of fragrance, the smell of freedom and she was lost.

xx Meg

Write on Wednesday: Small Expectations

This week's Write on Wednesday exercise is about "Small Expectations": imagining myself as tiny as my thumb, where would I live, what would I do?   Pop over to Ink Paper Pen if you would like to join in with the Write on Wednesday exercise this week.  The link on it will be open until the end of Friday.  

Write On Wednesdays

I stretched out my curled up body from of the warmth of my home.  The sweet smell of the surrounding nectar was calling me as was the birdsong.  It must be morning time.  That rumble in my tummy was becoming tremulous and threatening to rock me out of my rather precarious home. I needed food now.  I crawled out of my gum nut, shaking off the old seeds, grabbing what I could to pop them in my mouth.  They were hard to chew, and made me thirsty, but kept the hunger away for a while.  I saw a drop of dew on a nearby leaf and sucked it up to quench my thirsty while I looked around for my friends.

"Sssoo, ssweety, you're awake again?" It was Silver, the slippery tiger snake, startling me as he stared at me with his hungry eyes.  I stood very tall.  I felt very tall now as I was as tall as the largest gum leaf on my tree but still I picked up my pronged stick that lay near my gum nut and held out in front of me with all my might.

"What do you want, Silver?" I shouted using my loudest, fiercest voice. 

"He's mine, Silver, lay off, ha haaa haaa" In swooped my friend, Cassandra the Kookaburra, "Hungry, Gerry? Let's go grab some tucker! Jump on."  

I jumped on her back and clutched at a any feathers I could so that I didn't fall off as she took off, swooping here and there, up and down, in and out of the trees, down into the grass, over the billabong.  My legs flew out behind me as my body bounced along.  I loved flying with Cassie.  I wanted wings like Cassandra so that I could go wherever I wanted, escape from the Silver and Rascal the red-back spider.   Oh, to glide through the air, up to the top of the trees, out the end of the earth and back again, to the stars and the moon, out the best of the nectar, the sweetest pieces of food, to find other friends to play with, oh, I wanted to fly so badly.

I stretched my arms out to feel what it felt like to fly, flapping them just like Cassandra did.  Cassandra's body kept moving away from me, I was flying!  I was in the air and flying!  I flapped harder and harder but I was going down, down to the ground, to the thick, thick grass, where Silver's friends lived.  


I felt a whoosh beneath me as the beige and blue feathers came from behind me and collected me just before I landed.

"Why did you let go Gerry?"  She called as she made for the nearest tree to land, clearly shaken. 

"I'm sorry, Cassi, I'm sorry. I just want to be like you."  I buried my face in her back and cried as she carried me to safety. 

"You're safe now Gerry." Cassi soothed, "You don't need to be like me, you are your own self and that self is wonderful."  Cassi wrapped her wings around me as we perched up high in the trees overlooking the grasslands, safe.

xx Meg

Write on Wednesday: A letter to the Smile

Dear You,

Thank you for smiling back to me today.  Your smile turned my day around.  I know it wasn't much to you, but to me it meant everything.  I don't know your name and you don't know mine, I guess we never will.

I was sitting there, waiting, waiting for nothing, nothing in particular.  The weight of the world had become such a burden that I could stand no longer.  I could barely lift my back from a stoop.  The air felt thick, the world was grey.  

I had been looking at my shoes.  My shoes were worn, red once, now kind of pink and brown with the stitching undone.  The water from the rain had saturated them and my toes were cold and wet, but I could no longer feel them, but I knew where they were, where they always had been, gnarled and twisted.

The wind howled right through me, even through my treasured coat, you know the one.  The one that I am always wearing.  The brown one with all the badges on it.  I got those badges from someone I love, my grandson.  Those badges mean more to me than anything I have.  

I know that you know me because I see you every day.  Usually you rush right past, too busy to look, too embarrassed to look.  You are running for the train, or rushing home to the warmth of the house and a cooked dinner.  

Today you looked.  I saw a connection in your eye, I know you wanted to say something.  That's OK.  It's not your fault.  A smile was grand.  It warmed my heart and fed my soul.  You opened the channel.  We might speak one day. Even hello would be great, but if we don't, you smiled.  

Thank you.

Write On Wednesdays

This was from The Write on Wednesday Spark: Dear...

This week's writing exercise is to write a letter. Write an open letter or write to someone more specific. Write a letter between two fictional characters or write a letter into a fictional piece you are already working on. Think  about how differently you write depending upon who you are writing to. Your content in an open letter may differ to content in a private letter.

Wherever the prompt takes you. Keep your post on the short side: up to 500 words OR a 5 minute stream of consciousness exercise. Link your finished piece to the list and begin popping by the other links. Oh, and enjoy!

The linky will be open each week from Monday to Friday. If you are playing the game, try to visit the other linkers, at least three of four would be nice. Encourage, critique and support your fellow writers.

Pop over to Ink Paper Pen to find other bloggers who have posted on this or join in!

Writing Exercise: Said!

My ten year old came home yesterday jumping with excitement about the literary exercise that his class had been given.  They had been given 10 minutes as a class to come up with 100+ words to replace "said".  He put the challenge stick out there for hubby and I to beat it or even come close in only 10 minutes.  He didn't take into account that they worked in pairs and each pair only came up with about 30 words!

No Pressure!

Well,  it is incredible how the brain freezes in these moments with the ticking of the timer, the scratching of my hubby's pencil, yet in the end we managed to come up with 95 words to replace said (he had 45 and I had 40 - tell me why I'm writing and he is not?).  It is a great exercise and one I will repeat over and over (and I am keeping my hubby's words!).

Her Father's Daughter by Alice Pung

Alice, you have kept me awake into the wee hours of the night.  You have managed to put together yet another brilliant book, a memoir, a story of you and your father.  You are truly a brilliant writer.

Her Father's Daughter is a more serious book than her first book, Unpolished Gem, yet Alice's fragrant Australian, Cambodian, Chinese flavour flows so well with humour, dry wit and at many moments, the utter truth of the story that she carried me along this incredibly personal journey of her family.

Her Father's Daughter begins with Alice stepping off the bus in China, in the town that her family have come from, before Braybook, in Western Melbourne and before fleeing Cambodia.  She is wanting to understand her  roots, her father more.  Alice doesn't find what she expected in China, but when she returns and spends more time with her father, talking with him, listening to the stories, to the difficult stories of living the Black Bandits and having to flee death and persecution from the Pol Pot ("Political Potential") regime.  This part of the story is written in his voice and hers, allowing us to gain insight into what she thinks her father may have been thinking during during her time during university and beyond. This helps give some perspective to Kuan, her father, through his stories and those of his friends.

Alice tells the terrible story of the Year Zero so well, giving me so much understanding into the tragic unfolding of the events before and after 17 August 1975 when life as all in Phnom Penm knew it was to change forever.  She writes it in an incredibly respectful way that show the pain and loss the Cambodians went through as she follows the story of her father and his extended family from before Year Zero until they escaped to the refugee camp on the border of Thailand.

Many of those who made it out vowed that they would never set foot in that country again.  After reading what the people were put through, I can understand more clearly the trauma that they would have felt.   This story gives so much insight into the plight of so many people whose lives are suddenly turned upside down, and how this affects them forever.

Thank you again Alice for a brilliant, brilliant, brilliantly told story that was well worth being told.  10 / 10.

Kuan, thank you for sharing your story.