Review: Every Time He Dies – Tara East

 

Every Time He Dies

Tara East

Tara East – self published

ISBN: 9780648581512

 

Description:

Daphne Lawrence is haunted. Two years ago, her fiancé died in a terrible accident, her mother passed away from cancer and she stopped speaking to her father. As an embalmer, Daff is used to the company of dead people, but she isn’t used to them talking back. In fact, Daff isn’t used to anything that could be considered woo-woo including, but not limited to: psychics, crystal, meditation, tarot cards, vision quests and coincidences. Too bad that’s everything she’s experiencing.

 

Daff is forced to confront her own long ignored grief when she discovers a haunted watch buried in the sand at Golden Beach. The problem is, her ghost has no memory of his former life or how he died.

 

As Daff seeks to discover the spectre’s identity, dangerous truths and hidden secrets are revealed. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of an on-going homicide investigation led by Detective Sergeant Jon Lawrence, her father. A story about grief, time and identity, Every Time He Dies will leave you wondering whether our dearly beloveds ever really depart.

 

My View:

A brilliant debut!

 

This is a multilayered, deeply moving narrative of redemption, forgiveness, identity, moving on, grieving, bikies, lies, mysteries and ghosts. What a fabulous read and oh so satisfying.

 

Tara East is a very visual storyteller; I watched this story play out in technicolour 3D in my head, the locations, very Australian, (is it coincidence that the most readable speculative fiction I have come across are based in/around Brisbane, Queensland?), the characters so vibrant (I love you Daff and Liam, well mostly Liam but Daff you are a very engaging protagonist) and the mysteries, intriguing.

 

I do hope that this is the start of a series, I can’t wait to read more about Daff’s adventures as she assist the newly dead on their quests.

 

Post Script: South of Forgiveness – Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

South of Forgiveness

South of Forgiveness

Thordis Elva & Tom Stranger

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 978192532195

 

Description:

A woman, a man, a rape, and a hard journey from violence to reconciliation.

One ordinary spring morning in Reykjavik, Thordis Elva kisses her son and partner goodbye before boarding a plane to do an extraordinary thing: fly seven thousand miles south to meet up with the man who raped her when she was just sixteen.

 

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Australia, Tom Stranger nervously embarks on an equally life-changing journey, wondering whether he is worthy of this meeting.

 

After exchanging hundreds of searingly honest emails over eight years, Thordis and Tom decided it was time to speak face to face. Coming from opposite sides of the globe, they meet in the middle, in Cape Town, South Africa, a country that is no stranger to violence and the healing power of forgiveness.

South of Forgiveness is an unprecedented collaboration between a survivor and a perpetrator, each equally committed to exploring the darkest moment of their lives. It is a true story about being bent but not broken, of facing fear with courage, and of finding hope even in the most wounded of places.

 

 My View:

An account of real life experience, a memoir of sorts,  is hard to review – where do you start? How do you give a star rating? And that difficulty is increased when the subject matter is so personal and yet also concerns women and men, all over the world. These things I pondered for a while before I sat down and wrote my review. This is my personal opinion.

 

Firstly I have to mention how very courageous I think both parties are exposing their innermost thoughts and feelings to public scrutiny. Rape is an act of violence that is often very difficult to discuss, there are so many emotions surrounding the act and its aftermath; hurt, anger, fear, confusion, disgust, misguided feelings of self-blame that make this topic very controversial and difficult to speak about.

 

Not many will speak out and until more do the silence will continue suffocate this very real issue. Bravo to both authors for sharing their story. I hope it generates lots of discussion and creates safe spaces where others can share their experiences.

 

For me this is not just a story of rape, it is a powerful story of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It is obvious to me that Thordis Elva has spent a lot of time working on her own mental health and that she is in a very positive and secure place, Tom Stranger…I think has a way to go on this journey or maybe that is just the opinion I formed because most of the dialogue in the book belongs to Thordis Elva, Tom Stranger seem to be a bit player in this narrative.

 

If you are looking for a voyeuristic account of a degrading act of violence – then you have picked up the wrong book. The act itself is not the main character, the process of finding forgiveness is. This act of forgiveness I find so alien to my way of looking at the world, of dealing with hurt…but it is evident from this account and others ( for example of victims of crime and perpetrators meeting and reconciling) that for some, this process is healing. Bravo again Thordis Elva.

 

If you want a very personal, almost clinical, very rational account of one woman’s powerful journey in life- then this book is for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script- Work Like Any Other – Virginia Reeves

Beautifully written, elegant, poignant…heartbreaking.

Work Like Any Other  

Work Like Any Other

Virginia Reeves

Simon & Schuster

Scribner

ISBN: 9781471152221

 

Description:

Placing itself perfectly alongside acclaimed work by Philipp Meyer, Jane Smiley and J M Coetzee, this debut novel charts the story of Roscoe T Martin in rural Alabama in the 1920s. Roscoe has set his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the 20th century: electricity.

 

It becomes his training, his life’s work. But when his wife Marie inherits her father’s failing farm, Roscoe has to give it up, with great cost to his pride and sense of self, his marriage and his family. Realising that he might lose them all, he uses his skills as an electrician to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness on a farm recently falling to ruin. Even the love of Marie and their son seems back within Roscoe’s grasp. Then everything changes.

 

A young man is electrocuted on their land. Roscoe is arrested for manslaughter and – no longer an electrician or even a farmer – he must now carve out a place in a violent new world.

 

 

My View:

Beautifully written, elegant, poignant…heartbreaking.

 

I think what I loved most about this read was the quietness, the stillness. Despite so much tension, aggravation, violence and anger seeping through the pages of this novel, this was a particularly quiet and sensitive read, perhaps the considered responses by the protagonist contributed to the restful way I embraced this narrative; despite the harshness of the conditions, the punishment being served and the crime committed, Roscoe T Martin remains respected, valued and at ease with himself. His wife however is the opposite – full of bile and bitterness despite her freedoms, she is emotionally stunted and withered. Her identity is so closely tied up to her perception of what it is to be female (family/mother) that she is unable to love herself or anyone else – what a sad character. I disliked her immensely. The two main characters are so opposite – one open, one closed, on likable, one not – they are very well constructed.

 

This is a poignant exploration of relationships, power over, the importance of meaningful work in our lives, moral dilemmas, racism, redemption and forgiveness. A harsh penal system is pared back and dissected – the parts abhorrent and clearly showing the futility of the sentencing and worthless attempts at rehabilitation. The narrative is a classic tragedy; so much unfairness, ugliness and resentment in a small world. Good intentions have tragic outcomes, life choices effect all for many many years. Education is a panacea for everything.

 

A moving and thought provoking read.

 

 

 

Post Script: Whiskey and Charlie aka Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot – Annabel Smith

A story about family, memory and memories, forgiveness and hope.

Whiskey and Charlie

Whiskey & Charlie

Annabel Smith

SOURCEBOOKS Landmark

ISBN: 9781492607861

 

Description:

A captivating debut novel of brothers who have drifted apart and the accident that will determine their future, by an unforgettable new voice in fiction.

 

Some twins communicate in a secret language all their own. For Whiskey and Charlie Ferns, the two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies is the best they can do. But as the brothers grow up, they grow apart. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not-bold, daring, carefree-and Charlie blames his brother for always stealing the limelight, always striving ahead while seeming to push Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

 

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, he is shocked…although perhaps not devastated. But as days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to look back on their lives and examine whether or not Whiskey’s actions were truly as unforgivable as Charlie believed them to be.

 

My View:

This is a very moving, emotional and up lifting book that will engage and challenge some of your perceptions and attitudes about the people that surround you and the memories and beliefs we carry around with us – some assisting us in life’s journey, some holding us back. This is a narrative that reflects on a family and their individual reactions to and about a sibling critically injured in a car accident. Their responses, their strengths and weaknesses, their inner turmoil and fears slowly revealed as family secrets and myths are washed clean and truths faced.

 

Annabel Smith delivers well developed characters, big emotions and plenty of material for reflection. Cleverly Smith uses the scenario of identical twins to explore relationships, memories, values, envy and guilt by dipping back and forward into the lives of the two brothers. I was surprised that as I became more involved in the book, the less I liked Charlie – his stubbornness, his jealousy, his lack of confidence in himself and his inability to share his emotions. Under the surface this “sensible” twin was slowly revealed as emotionally stunted, thankfully he was not beyond redemption.

 

A very moving and challenging read that will leave you examining your own relationships and beliefs.